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Microsoft CEO Says Facial Recognition Should Be Regulated

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella responded on Thursday to recent allegations regarding the risk involved in facial recognition.

A group of 90 advocacy groups wrote a letter of request to tech giants Amazon, Google, and Microsoft on January 15 asking the companies to “pledge not to sell facial recognition technology to the government,” as reported by Reuters. This move isn’t entirely unwarranted, as these companies have already acknowledged the risks involving facial recognition services as well as their potential for misuse and surveillance by bad actors.

Google announced in December that “it would not sell its technology until these loopholes for abuse were closed”. Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, also proposed several safeguards against facial recognition for Congress to stifle misuse, if it ever comes to that. The advocacy groups are still seeking stronger pledges from the companies, however.

Nadella has now joined the conversation, saying that with the growth of facial recognition technology, he would “welcome regulation that will help the marketplace not be a race to the bottom.” The CEO adds that “there is no discrimination now between right and wrong use of the technology”, something that civil liberties groups have been worrying about regarding surveillance and violation of privacy.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Nadella said, “Microsoft has principles to build it and make sure [there are] fair and robust uses of the technology.”

Microsoft also announced that it will be holding a press conference at Mobile World Congress in February.