The company said it will take steps to make those systems less prone to bias; develop new public principles to govern the technology; and will move more deliberately to sell its software and expertise in the area. While Microsoft noted that the tech industry bears responsibility for its products, the company argued that government action is also needed.
"The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself," Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said Friday in a blog post. "And if there are concerns about how a technology will be deployed more broadly across society, the only way to regulate this broad use is for the government to do so. This in fact is what we believe is needed today - a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology, informed first by a bipartisan and expert commission."
"While we appreciate that some people today are calling for tech companies to make these decisions - and we recognize a clear need for our own exercise of responsibility - we believe this is an inadequate substitute for decision making by the public and its representatives in a democratic republic," Smith wrote.
Among the issues that government regulation should consider, Smith wrote, is whether police use of facial recognition software needs human oversight and controls and whether retailers must post visible notice if they use such software in public areas. Other areas for consideration include whether companies should be required to obtain consent before collecting a person's images and what legal rights apply to people who believe they've been misidentified by a facial recognition system.