Microsoft President Brad Smith emphasized today that Microsoft will not sell facial recognition software to police departments in the United States. Smith shared his remarks during a Washington Post Live session, in which he spoke on the role of tech companies and the United States government in regard to facial recognition software. Microsoft did not sell facial recognition software to police departments previously and Smith explained that the company will not do so until national laws are in place that govern the use of facial recognition technology.
Smith stated that Microsoft will not sell facial recognition software to police departments in the United States until a national law is in place that is “grounded in human rights” that will govern the use of facial recognition technology.
The company president explained that Microsoft has a set of principles in place that led to its decision to not sell facial recognition technology to police departments, stating, “As a result of the principles that we’ve put in place, we do not sell facial recognition technology to police departments in the United States today.”
Smith’s statements come at a time when protesters throughout the United States and around the globe are calling for an end to police brutality and racially related violence. Smith believes the current climate should lead people to do more, stating, “I do think this is a moment in time that really calls on us to listen more, to learn more, and most importantly, to do more.” Smith continued, stating, “We need to use this moment to pursue a strong national law to govern facial recognition that is grounded in the protection of human rights.”
Microsoft president @BradSmi says the company does not sell facial recognition software to police depts. in the U.S. today and will not sell the tools to police until there is a national law in place “grounded in human rights.” #postlive pic.twitter.com/lwxBLjrtZL
— Washington Post Live (@postlive) June 11, 2020
Microsoft is not the first tech giant to speak out on the use of facial recognition technology. IBM and Amazon have made similar moves. Smith states that the moves made by Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft in this sphere won’t be as effective if other companies don’t make similar moves. Later, Smith spoke on the role of government in regard to the technology, stating, “We need Congress to act, not just tech companies alone. That is the only way that we will guarantee that we will protect the lives of people”.