Microsoft president Brad Smith spoke about the dangers of “technology creeping into everyday life and eroding civil liberties along the way.”
To prove its point, Microsoft turned down a facial recognition contract with California law enforcement agencies, citing potential human rights issues.
However, recently, there was news that Microsoft deleted a massive image database called MS Celeb.
It was a facial recognition database built in 2016 comprised of 10 million individual photographs of around 100,000 different well-known people such as celebrities and government figures.
The project had a majority of American and British actor images as well as those of people who maintain a professional presence for their job. For example, journalists, musicians, policy makers, researchers, artists, activists and writers were included, among other celebrities.
The purpose of the database was to test facial recognition software accuracy.
Microsoft has noted that the database is no longer available due to the person curating the collection leaving the company.
Analysts believe that the database was used to train and increase accuracy for a system being used by the military and police forces.
However, despite Microsoft’s assurance that the database is gone, analysts have other thoughts. Adam Harvey from Megapixels said: “You can’t make a data set disappear. Once you post it, and people download it, it exists on hard drives all over the world.”
Facial recognition has recently come under public fire, and Microsoft is currently maintaining its position on regulation.
However, it bears noting that while Microsoft has spoken at length about regulations for facial recognition, the company does still want to use facial recognition technology to sell products via ads.