Summary of Facial Recognition Technology

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Facial Recognition Technology summary
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It’s unusual for big tech companies to ask for government regulation – yet Microsoft has done just that. In a blog post, the company’s president Brad Smith warns about the potential misuses of facial recognition technology, stating that a common regulatory framework will be in everyone’s best interests. It is not yet known whether Microsoft’s competitors will join his call for industry standards. Yet Smith’s essay raises a series of important ethical questions, which getAbstract believes tech industry insiders will want to consider.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why it’s time for governments to regulate facial recognition technology and
  • What ethical responsibilities tech companies bear in preventing human rights violations. 

About the Author

Brad Smith is the president and chief legal officer of Microsoft.



Computer-assisted facial recognition technology has advanced rapidly and as databases with stored facial images expand, cloud-based facial recognition systems will be able to identify people captured on surveillance cameras without their knowledge. This has sparked human-rights concerns relating to privacy and freedom of expression. Furthermore, facial recognition technology continues to be error-prone. While the technology is best at recognizing white males, it identifies the faces of women and people of color less reliably. It is up to both governments and tech companies to implement effective regulations and ethical guidelines to prevent abuse of this powerful technology. Proactive government regulation is necessary to ensure that the industry follows the same legal standards. The US Congress should establish a bipartisan commission of experts for independent advice on how best to regulate the technology. Also, Congress must strengthen its oversight of the executive branch’s use of the technology in law enforcement and national security. Government regulators should consider specific issues, including whether there should be human oversight for unaided systems, how to prevent racial profiling, whether companies have a responsibility to inform the public about their use of facial recognition systems and to ask for consent prior to identifying images captured in public, and what legal recourse to grant falsely identified individuals.

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