Alters Policy on Facial-Recognition Investments

30 Mars, 2020, 16:55 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Microsoft sells stake in Israeli face recognition firm

AnyVision had been blamed for utilizing facial recognition to surveil Palestinians around the West Bank, repudiating Microsoft's guarantee to stay away from any employments of the tech that encroached on democratic freedoms.

The investigation, conducted by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his team at Covington & Burling, confirmed that AnyVision's technology was used to monitor border crossings between the West Bank and Israel, but did not "power a mass surveillance program in the West Bank".

Microsoft's stance against unchecked use of facial recognition is notable as other tech companies like Facebook and Amazon are investing heavily in facial-recognition technologies.

Microsoft has been vocal about setting limits on facial recognition, and it's now backing that up with its monetary help - or deficiency in that department.

Microsoft came under scrutiny last summer for participating in a $74 million funding round for AnyVision, which critics said contradicted the company's principles. But more than with many other technologies, this technology needs to be developed and used carefully. The company is ending minority investments in facial recognition startups and is pulling its stake in AnyVision, ...

With its six principles laid out, Microsoft could control, not only how it deploys its own facial recognition technologies, but also how its portfolio companies developing the technology deploys it.

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Microsoft said there was no change to its internal work on facial recognition. "After substantial discussion and review, we have made a decision to adopt six principles to manage these issues at Microsoft".

However, the company's chief legal officer, Brad Smith, said a year ago that Microsoft would never sell facial recognition for surveillance purposes, and Smith said he is denied access to the technology by law enforcement over concerns that will contribute to civil and human rights. rights abuses.

Now, after determining that controlling how facial recognition technologies are deployed by its minority investments is too hard, the company is suspending its outside investments in the technology.

Thus for the objective of its image the sensible thing to do would be to walk away.

Being a minority investor in a company that sells sensitive technology generally does not offer "the level of supervision or control that Microsoft exercises over the use of its own technology", the company said in a statement published on the Microsoft website for M12, the company risk investment fund. He called on the government to introduce regulation to prevent abuse of the technology and to protect human rights, and compared the need for regulation in the facial-recognition industry to regulations brought in in the 20th century regarding seat belts, air safety, or the regulation of food and pharmaceutical products.

Since its establishment in 2016, Microsoft's ventures arm, M12 has been involved in 353 funding rounds and investing almost $5 billion into its portfolio companies.

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