Mi­crosoft un­veils fa­cial recog­ni­tion prin­ci­ples

Manila Bulletin - - Business News -

WASH­ING­TON (AFP) – Mi­crosoft said it was adopt­ing a set of prin­ci­ples for de­ploy­ment of fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy, call­ing on in­dus­try ri­vals to fol­low suit and for new laws to avert a dystopian fu­ture.

Mi­crosoft pres­i­dent Brad Smith made the an­nounce­ment at a Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion speech and an ac­com­pa­ny­ing blog post, say­ing it was ur­gent to be­gin plac­ing lim­its on fa­cial recog­ni­tion to avoid the sur­veil­lance state de­scribed in Ge­orge Or­well's ''1984. '' '' We must en­sure that the year 2024 doesn't look like a page from the novel '1984,''' Smith said.

''An in­dis­pens­able demo­cratic prin­ci­ple has al­ways been the tenet that no gov­ern­ment is above the law. To­day this re­quires that we en­sure that gov­ern­men­tal use of fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy re­main sub­ject to the rule of law. New leg­is­la­tion can put us on this path.''

Ear­lier this year, Mi­crosoft said it saw a need for some kind of reg­u­la­tion of fa­cial recog­ni­tion, and on Thurs­day Smith out­lined prin­ci­ples that the com­pany sees as im­por­tant.

Smith said the tech firm will press for leg­is­la­tion to be passed as early as 2019 that would re­quire trans­parency, hu­man re­view and pri­vacy safe­guards for any de­ploy­ment of fa­cial recog­ni­tion.

He said Mi­crosoft would be­gin adopt­ing these prin­ci­ples it­self, while urg­ing other tech firms to do the same.

''This is a global is­sue and the in­dus­try needs to ad­dress these is­sues head on,'' he said.

Smith said an im­por­tant el­e­ment would be to re­quire ''mean­ing­ful hu­man re­view'' when fa­cial recog­ni­tion al­go­rithms are used to make key de­ci­sions that can af­fect a per­son's pri­vacy, hu­man rights or free­dom, and to safe­guard against dis­crim­i­na­tion or bias. Ad­di­tion­ally, he said new laws should set lim­its on po­lice use of fa­cial recog­ni­tion, so it may be used only with a court order or in the case of an im­mi­nent threat.

''We be­lieve it's im­por­tant for gov­ern­ments in 2019 to start adopt­ing laws to reg­u­late this tech­nol­ogy,'' he said.

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