Microsoft declines to sell facial recognition tech to police

FILE PHOTO: The Microsoft logo is pictured ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said on Thursday it would not sell its facial-recognition technology to police departments until there is a federal law regulating the technology.

“We do not sell our facial recognition technology to U.S. police departments today, and until there is a strong national law grounded in human rights, we will not sell this technology to police departments,” the company said in a statement.

This comes a day after Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) said it was implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial-recognition software, halting a business it long defended as many protested law enforcement brutality against people of color.

The death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody last month, has fanned worries that facial recognition would be used unfairly against protesters.

“When even the makers of face recognition refuse to sell this surveillance technology because it is so dangerous, lawmakers can no longer deny the threats to our rights and liberties,” said Matt Cagle, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Congress has been weighing possible regulation of the technology for months.

International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) said on Monday it would no longer offer facial recognition or analysis software in a letter to Congress, while calling for new efforts to pursue justice and racial equity.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil, Stephen Nellis and Jeffrey Dastin; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Vinay Dwivedi

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