Microsoft has officially announced it has hired Eric Holder to audit AnyVision's use of facial technology. Holder is a former United States District Attorney General who will help to determine if AnyVision met Microsoft's ethical framework in terms of biometric surveillance.
Microsoft's M12 invested $74 million in AnyVision's Series A Funding in June. The company said the investment relied on AnyVision complying “with its six ethical principles to guide its facial recognition work: fairness, transparency, accountability, nondiscrimination, notice and consent, and lawful surveillance.”
“We will advocate for safeguards for people's democratic freedoms in law enforcement surveillance scenarios and will not deploy facial recognition technology in scenarios that we believe will put these freedoms at risk.” This Microsoft blog details the six principles that Microsoft believes should govern facial recognition tech.
An NBC report earlier this year accused AnyVision of using its technology to spy on Palestinians on the West Bank. The company has refuted the claims and said its facial recognition software is now used for any surveillance.
Speaking to CNet, Microsoft confirmed Holder “will move quickly, reviewing documents and conducting on the ground interviews with AnyVision employees and others to ensure a full and thorough investigation.”
Microsoft has been at the forefront has been calling for regulations around facial recognition tech.
At the same time, Microsoft president Brad Smith has previously said there should be no issue with governments leveraging facial recognition tech. In September, Smith denied Microsoft is selling facial data US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“Microsoft is not working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border, and contrary to some speculation, we are not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this purpose.”