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Documents reveal Microsoft pitched facial recognition tech to drug enforcement feds

Microsoft has lengthy forged itself as an ethical authority on facial recognition, calling for federal regulation of the know-how and pledging not to promote it to police. However emails and launched Wednesday present Microsoft repeatedly pitched its facial recognition software program to the federal authorities.

Emails from 2017 and 2018 reveal Microsoft pitched the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on its facial recognition know-how and obtained the company to pilot it. Microsoft hosted DEA officers for a number of demos of the product on the firm’s workplace in Virginia, in accordance to the ACLU.

Final week, Microsoft President Brad Smith to any police departments within the U.S. and promised that moratorium will proceed within the absence of a federal regulation governing the know-how. The announcement adopted related strikes by Microsoft rivals. Amazon , after 

The selections had been influenced by a nationwide racial justice motion protesting police violence and placing stress on tech firms that provide merchandise to regulation enforcement companies.

“It’s essential to see what IBM has finished,” Smith mentioned. “It’s important to acknowledge what Amazon has finished. It’s clearly related to what we’re doing. But when the entire accountable firms within the nation cede this market to these that aren’t ready to take a stand, we received’t essentially serve the nationwide pursuits or the lives of the black and African American folks of this nation effectively. We want Congress to act, not simply tech firms alone.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella echoed Smith on Tuesday, telling a gaggle of pc imaginative and prescient researchers that the moratoriums might have adverse penalties long-term if U.S. lawmakers fail to enact laws governing using the know-how.

“We want to use this second to advocate for robust nationwide regulation, in any other case we’ll see accountable firms leaving the market and others stepping in,” Nadella mentioned, addressing the  in a prerecorded dialog Tuesday morning.

Final yr, Microsoft refused to promote its software program to a California regulation enforcement company that wished to run face scans “anytime they pulled anybody over.” Microsoft additionally wouldn’t enable an unnamed metropolis in a foreign country to use the know-how on cameras in public areas.

However the emails obtained by the ACLU paint a extra sophisticated portrait of Microsoft’s facial recognition technique. Microsoft could also be extra selective about promoting the know-how to regulation enforcement companies than its rivals however that doesn’t imply the corporate is staying out of the enterprise altogether.

The ACLU obtained the emails as a part of a lawsuit towards the DEA and FBI over an absence of transparency within the authorities’s use of facial recognition know-how.

The DEA didn’t in the end buy Microsoft’s product as of November 2018, in accordance to the emails.

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