Six principles to guide Microsoft’s facial recognition work

In his recent speech at the Brookings Institution, Brad Smith talked about the urgent need for governments to adopt laws to regulate facial recognition technology. The recommendations, outlined in an accompanying blog post, frame a broader journey we as a society must take to address important questions about the technology while it is still in its infancy, before it’s too late to put the facial recognition genie back in its bottle. He also introduced the principles that will guide Microsoft in how we develop and deploy facial recognition technology. The principles are:

  1. Fairness. We will work to develop and deploy facial recognition technology in a manner that strives to treat all people fairly.
  2. Transparency. We will document and clearly communicate the capabilities and limitations of facial recognition technology.
  3. Accountability. We will encourage and help our customers to deploy facial recognition technology in a manner that ensures an appropriate level of human control for uses that may affect people in consequential ways.
  4. Non-discrimination. We will prohibit in our terms of service the use of facial recognition technology to engage in unlawful discrimination.
  5. Notice and consent. We will encourage private sector customers to provide notice and secure consent for the deployment of facial recognition technology.
  6. Lawful surveillance. We will advocate for safeguards for people’s democratic freedoms in law enforcement surveillance scenarios and will not deploy facial recognition technology in scenarios that we believe will put these freedoms at risk.

We explain these principles in more detail here. Our goal is to make these principles operational by the end of March 2019. But even as we implement them, we do so knowing that the issues are novel and complex and that we still have much to learn. We fully anticipate the principles will evolve over time based on our experience, the experience of others, and the ongoing conversations we will have around facial recognition technology with customers, public officials, technologists, academics, civil society groups, and multi-stakeholder organizations such as the Partnership on AI.  We remain committed to continuing these critical conversations, to advocating for laws that keep pace with the inevitable advances of this technology, and to sharing what we learn.

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