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Microsoft Prohibits US Police Departments from Deploying Enterprise AI Tool for Facial Recognition

ByHuey Yee Ong

May 6, 2024
Microsoft Tightens AI Usage Rules to Prevent Police Misuse in the US

Microsoft Prohibits US Police Departments from Deploying Enterprise AI Tool for Facial Recognition

Microsoft has recently updated its policies to tighten restrictions on the use of its Azure OpenAI Service by U.S. police departments, specifically banning the integration of this service for facial recognition purpose.

This update, articulated through revisions to the Azure OpenAI Service terms of service, explicitly prohibits any application that involves “real-time facial recognition technology” by U.S. law enforcement agencies, including on mobile devices such as body cameras and dashcams.

New Restrictions on Mobile and Global Law Enforcement Usage

The new policy, which now includes a clause against the use of these technologies in “uncontrolled, in-the-wild” environments by any law enforcement agency worldwide, reflects a growing concern over the potential misuses of AI technology, including issues of accuracy and racial bias.

These concerns were highlighted following the recent announcement by Axon, a company known for its law enforcement technology products, which introduced a new tool that utilizes OpenAI’s GPT-4 model to analyze audio from body cameras. Critics have raised alarms about the possibility of AI-generated errors and inherent biases, particularly the risk of disproportionate impacts on communities of color.

The detailed restrictions in the Azure OpenAI Service terms specifically apply to U.S. police but do allow certain leeways for international law enforcement and controlled uses such as stationary cameras within confined settings.

Despite these stringent rules for law enforcement, Microsoft continues to engage in AI-driven projects with military and defense entities. Reports from earlier this year indicated collaborations between OpenAI and the Pentagon on cybersecurity among other projects, as well as Microsoft’s pitches involving DALL-E for software development in defense operations.

Microsoft’s AI Engagement with Military and Defense

Moreover, Microsoft’s government-focused division, Microsoft Federal, under the guidance of Senior Vice President Candice Ling, announced that Azure OpenAI Service was incorporated into Azure Government in February.

This inclusion aims to enhance the service with additional compliance and management features suitable for government and law enforcement applications, promising further evaluations and authorizations particularly tailored for Department of Defense missions.

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Featured Image courtesy of MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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