George Floyd: Microsoft bars facial recognition sales to police
A U.S. government study suggested that face recognition algorithms were less accurate in identifying African American faces
Microsoft is the latest U.S. company to restrict police use of its facial recognition technology.
The company said it won't start selling to U.S. police departments until the country approves the national regulation of the technology, which critics say is racially biased and easily misused.
Amazon and IBM have already taken similar steps.
Widespread protests against police brutality and racial discrimination followed.
Amazon banned the police from using their technology for a year on Wednesday, while IBM previously announced it would no longer offer "mass surveillance or racial profiling" technology.
The American Civil Liberties Union has been campaigning against such software for years and warns that there is a risk of widespread "suspicious" surveillance.
"Microsoft, Amazon and IBM have finally started to take action, but we still have a long way to go to end surveillance and surveillance of the black and brown communities forever," the organization said.
It urged US lawmakers to issue an immediate "pause" for law enforcement to use the technology.
Federal vs Local
In recent weeks, companies have been under pressure to respond to the protests triggered by George Floyd's death in police custody.
George Floyd: Why Are Companies Talking This Time?
Microsoft President Brad Smith said at an event that the company had not sold to police departments and would not start "until we have a national human rights law that will regulate this technology."
Microsoft first called for national regulation over two years ago and warned that inaction could result in such services "spreading in a way that aggravates social problems."
Businesses tend to prefer national rules rather than being forced to grapple with patchwork of local laws.
However, there are some concerns that a national law could be a way to override stricter local regulations.
San Francisco, for example, has already banned facial recognition technology from its police and public agencies.
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