Microsoft latest to ban police from using facial recognition software

Microsoft latest to ban police from using facial recognition software

The announcement came a working day right after rival Amazon declared it was pausing police use of its "Rekognition" service for a 12 months, whilst IBM also claimed this week it no for a longer period is usually giving the computer software and that technological innovation should not encourage racial injustice.

Facial recognition is used by companies for wide uses, including letting users unlock their phones or other electronic devices and automatically tagging friends in social media photos.

During a Washington Post Live event Thursday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company would not be selling the software to police until Congress enacted a national law "grounded in human rights, that will govern this technology".

Amazon announced Wednesday that they would institute a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial recognition technology.

Trump's retweeting of the post calling for barring Microsoft from government contracts bears significance in view of the fact that the company beat Amazon to win a major $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract past year, beating its rival Amazon.

The president retweeted Richard Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence, who criticized Microsoft's announcement that they would not sell facial recognition tools to police until there was federal legislation surrounding the technology.

He added: "We need Congress to act, not just the technology companies alone".

The significance of facial recognition software had increased after the death of George Floyd when an American police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.

It was the week that big tech slammed the brakes on development of facial recognition systems.

Whatever the outcome, we can expect further challenges to the use of a technology which critics say should not be deployed until we have had a proper debate about its regulation. Two years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) began calling on tech giants to stop providing the technology to governments and law enforcement agencies, arguing that it posed a potential threat, especially to immigrants and people of colour.