Microsoft is asking the government to regulate the company’s facial recognition tech


Microsoft (MSFT) sent one of its top executives to Washington with an unusual request: To ask the government to regulate the use of the company’s automated facial-recognition software. In fact, Microsoft president Brad Smith went beyond past calls for a conversation about appropriate rules, and suggested a new law should be put in place now.

“The world needs to have confidence that this technology will be used well,” Smith said in a speech at the Brookings Institution Thursday afternoon. “Then we’ll be able to innovate in ways that benefit society.”

But if nothing happens and facial recognition remains a rules-free space, commercial pressures will push companies to “choose between being societally responsible and gaining market share,” Smith said. In other words, a race to the bottom.

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