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  • Parv Jain

New Limits for US Police on Microsoft's Azure OpenAI Service

Updated: 3 days ago

Azure OpenAI

Microsoft has recently updated its guidelines to further restrict how police in the United States can use its Azure OpenAI Service for facial recognition. Now, police officers are not allowed to use this technology with body cameras or dash cameras to identify people using criminal databases. This includes a ban on using real-time facial recognition with mobile cameras by police globally in uncontrolled environments, like on the streets.

Previously, Microsoft's rules stopped U.S. state and local police from using facial recognition to identify or verify people's identities in media that show people's faces. These rules did not mention international law enforcement, but now, the restrictions apply globally to real-time uses.

Going back to 2020, Microsoft had already paused selling its facial recognition tech to U.S. police, waiting for a federal law that respects human rights.

Although the technology can help fight crime, it has about an 80% accuracy rate, which means mistakes can happen.

For instance, a businessman was wrongfully detained while traveling because of a mistaken identity by facial recognition.

Additionally, the technology can be biased. This means it might not work the same for all people because of the kind of data it learns from. Last year, UNESCO discussed how these biases could lead to errors, like misjudging someone's alertness while driving.

Overall, while facial recognition technology offers many benefits, its limitations and the potential for misuse have led Microsoft to impose these stringent controls.


Q1. What changes has Microsoft made to the use of Azure OpenAI for facial recognition by police?

Microsoft has updated its code of conduct to prohibit U.S. police from using Azure OpenAI Service for facial recognition through body-worn or dash-mounted cameras. This rule also applies globally to any real-time facial recognition used in uncontrolled settings.

Q2. Does the new policy affect all law enforcement agencies worldwide?

The new policy specifically bans real-time facial recognition by law enforcement globally. However, other restrictions primarily apply to U.S. police departments.

Q3. Can U.S. police still use other forms of technology from Microsoft for identification purposes?

Yes, U.S. police can use other Microsoft technologies for identification, but they cannot use Azure OpenAI Service for facial recognition according to the updated guidelines.


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