Microsoft President Brad Smith called for an increase in regulation from the government for the use of facial recognition technology. Such technologies were developed to offer services that are more efficient and customized as per the requirements of the customers. In order to do so, corporations developed techniques to map and index the users’ activity, to be able to understand and predict the users’ preferences.
Technologies like Apple’s facial recognition have also been used by government agencies for profiling and ended up attracting widespread criticism from the media as well as the people. Microsoft’s own technology has been used by the government to identify immigrants at the border, which subsequently resulted in the separation of children from their parents.
Smith talks about a frightening scenario in which the stuff of acclaimed science fiction movies like Minority Report becomes a reality. Imagine retailers in shopping malls using recognition to share data about customer purchase patterns.
Governments around the world are adopting similar technologies to monitor their people with higher efficiency and accuracy. “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,” said Smith.
Smith further adds, “The more powerful the tool, the greater the benefit or damage it can cause. The last few months have brought this into stark relief when it comes to computer-assisted facial recognition. This technology can catalog your photos, help reunite families or potentially be misused and abused by private companies and public authorities alike.”
Most observers and the general public concur with Smith’s view of stricter regulation, especially in light of the data breaches in companies that have compromised user information.