Amid a growing call for regulations to limit the use of facial recognition technology, Microsoft on Friday became the first tech giant to join the chorus.
In a lengthy blog post about the potential and the risks of facial recognition, Bradford L. Smith, the company’s president, compared the technology to products like medicines and cars that are highly regulated, and he urged Congress to study it and oversee its use.
“We live in a nation of laws, and the government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology,” Smith wrote. He added: “A world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.”
Facial recognition has become a new focus for critics. The powerful technology can be used to identify people in photos or video feeds without their knowledge or permission. Proponents see it as a potentially important tool for identifying criminals, but civil liberties experts have warned that the technology could enable mass surveillance, hindering people’s ability to freely attend political protests or go about their day-to-day lives in anonymity.