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Microsoft Urges Regulating Facial Recognition - Should It?

Amid a growing call for regulations to limit the use of facial recognition technology, Microsoft on Friday became the first tech giant to join the chorus.

NY Times: Microsoft Urges Congress to Regulate Use of Facial Recognition

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Michael, thanks for sharing. 

Here is Microsoft's post: Facial recognition technology: The need for public regulation and corporate responsibility

It is a long and thoughtful article. A few highlights:

Imagine a government tracking everywhere you walked over the past month without your permission or knowledge. Imagine a database of everyone who attended a political rally that constitutes the very essence of free speech. Imagine the stores of a shopping mall using facial recognition to share information with each other about each shelf that you browse and product you buy, without asking you first.

One week in the middle of June put the issues raised by facial recognition technology in bold relief for me and other company leaders at Microsoft. As the country was transfixed by the controversy surrounding the separation of immigrant children from their families at the southern border, a tweet about a marketing blog Microsoft published in January quickly blew up on social media and sparked vigorous debate. The blog had discussed a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and said that Microsoft had passed a high security threshold; it included a sentence about the potential for ICE to use facial recognition.

But a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.

That’s why Microsoft called for national privacy legislation for the United States in 2005 and why we’ve supported the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union. Consumers will have more confidence in the way companies use their sensitive personal information if there are clear rules of the road for everyone to follow. While the new issues relating to facial recognition go beyond privacy, we believe the analogy is apt.

I think the video surveillance industry could be hit particularly hard by these issues.

What do you all think about this being regulated? Here is a poll:

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No, but civilians shall be allowed to wear masks or makeup preventing identification.

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My biggest takeaway from Microsoft's efforts was the call for facial recognition to be regulated at the federal level. This would remove the need for Microsoft and other vendors to follow one set of laws in Illinois, one set in Texas, one set in California, and so forth.

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Aside from facial recognition, your entire psychological profile is rendered and archived. All the things you say and do your entire life is done with your phone within hands reach. It is not just your phone, the phone next to you knows you are there. In the future the ability to know how someone actually is feeling may able to be computed. If we do not want to a death by AI these interfaces will need to be built so we can one day interface our technology.

First we have to go thru the dark ages to get there. It's going to be a wild ride.

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New video from Microsoft in which they state that facial recognition can be used as a weapon:

Full video embedded below:

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