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Microsoft calls on US govt to regulate facial recognition...

16/07/2018

Microsoft president Brad Smith has made a plea to the US government to regulate facial recognition technology. In a blog post published on the Microsoft website he said it was the the technology of the moment but it had broad societal ramifications and the potential for abuse.

The full blog can be read here, but we have picked out some pertinent highlights;

Facial recognition technology raises issues that go to the heart of fundamental human rights protections like privacy and freedom of expression. These issues heighten responsibility for tech companies that create these products. In our view, they also call for thoughtful government regulation and for the development of norms around acceptable uses. In a democratic republic, there is no substitute for decision making by our elected representatives regarding the issues that require the balancing of public safety with the essence of our democratic freedoms. Facial recognition will require the public and private sectors alike to step up and to act.

Advanced technology no longer stands apart from society; it is becoming deeply infused in our personal and professional lives. This means the potential uses of facial recognition are myriad. At an elementary level, you might use it to catalog and search your photos, but that's just the beginning. Some uses are already improving security for computer users, like recognizing your face instead of requiring a password to access many Windows laptops or iPhones, and in the future a device like an automated teller machine.

Some emerging uses are both positive and potentially even profound. Imagine finding a young missing child by recognizing her as she is being walked down the street. But other potential applications are more sobering. 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.

Perhaps as much as any advance, facial recognition raises a critical question: what role do we want this type of technology to play in everyday society?

The issues become even more complicated when we add the fact that facial recognition is advancing quickly but remains far from perfect. As reported widely in recent months, biases have been found in the performance of several fielded face recognition technologies. The technologies worked more accurately for white men than for white women and were more accurate in identifying persons with lighter complexions than people of colour. Researchers across the tech sector are working overtime to address these challenges and significant progress is being made. But as important research has demonstrated, deficiencies remain. The relative immaturity of the technology is making the broader public questions even more pressing.

Even if biases are addressed and facial recognition systems operate in a manner deemed fair for all people, we will still face challenges with potential failures. Facial recognition, like many AI technologies, typically have some rate of error even when they operate in an unbiased way. And the issues relating to facial recognition go well beyond questions of bias themselves, raising critical questions about our fundamental freedoms.

The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself. And if there are concerns about how a technology will be deployed more broadly across society, the only way to regulate this broad use is for the government to do so. This in fact is what we believe is needed today a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology, informed first by a bipartisan and expert commission.

While we appreciate that some people today are calling for tech companies to make these decisions and we recognize a clear need for our own exercise of responsibility, as discussed further below we believe this is an inadequate substitute for decision making by the public and its representatives in a democratic republic. We live in a nation of laws, and the government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology. As a general principle, it seems more sensible to ask an elected government to regulate companies than to ask unelected companies to regulate such a government.

So what issues should be addressed through government regulation? That's one of the most important initial questions to address. As a starting point, we believe governments should consider the following issues, among others:

Should law enforcement use of facial recognition be subject to human oversight and controls, including restrictions on the use of unaided facial recognition technology as evidence of an individual's guilt or innocence of a crime?

Similarly, should we ensure there is civilian oversight and accountability for the use of facial recognition as part of governmental national security technology practices?

What types of legal measures can prevent use of facial recognition for racial profiling and other violations of rights while still permitting the beneficial uses of the technology?

Should use of facial recognition by public authorities or others be subject to minimum performance levels on accuracy?

Should the law require that retailers post visible notice of their use of facial recognition technology in public spaces?

Should the law require that companies obtain prior consent before collecting individuals' images for facial recognition? If so, in what situations and places should this apply? And what is the appropriate way to ask for and obtain such consent?

Should we ensure that individuals have the right to know what photos have been collected and stored that have been identified with their names and faces?

Should we create processe
LINK: http://www.inavateonthenet.net/news/article/microsoft-calls-on-us-govt...
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