Microsoft tried to sell face recognition technology to US authorities


Microsoft tried to sell its face recognition technology to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2017, when it itself publicly called for the development of standards for the application of this technology. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) received emails through an open lawsuit filed last October that related to negotiations between Microsoft and the agency.

As indicated in emails from September 2017 to December 2018, Microsoft privately invited DEA agents to its office in Reston, Virginia, to demonstrate the face recognition system, and later the DEA tested the technology. The emails also reported that the DEA expressed concern about the purchase of the technology, fearing criticism from the public when the FBI used similar technologies at the time.

According to critics, face recognition technologies violate the right of Americans to privacy and disproportionately show bias against members of other races.

“It’s bad that Microsoft tried to sell dangerous technology to law enforcement agencies charged with leading the war against racism, but the situation is getting worse. Even after a belated promise not to sell CCTV technology, Microsoft refused to say whether it would sell the technology to federal agencies like DEA, ”said ACLU senior lawyer Nathan Freed Wessler.

Representatives of DEA and Microsoft declined to comment on this situation.

Recall, Microsoft became the third company in a row (after IBM and Amazon), which decided to take a stand against the use of face recognition technology by law enforcement agencies. According to the president of the company, Brad Smith, the tech giant has taken a “principled position” regarding the proper use of this technology.


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