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Microsoft bars facial recognition sales to police

Microsoft has become the latest US company to limit the use of its facial recognition technology by police.

The firm said it would not start sales to US police departments until the country approves national regulation of the technology, which critics say is racially biased and easy to abuse.

Amazon on Wednesday banned police from using its tech for one year, while IBM earlier said it would stop offering the technology for “mass surveillance or racial profiling”.

The American Civil Liberties Union has campaigned against such software for years, warning there is a danger it will be used to for widespread “suspicionless” surveillance.

“Microsoft, Amazon and IBM have finally started to take action. But we still have a long way to go to forever end the over-policing and surveillance of black and brown communities,” the organisation said in a statement.

It called on US lawmakers to order an immediate “pause” on law enforcement use of the technology.

Firms have been under pressure in recent weeks to respond to the protests triggered by George Floyd’s death in police custody.

Companies tend to favour national rules, rather than be forced to deal with a patchwork of local laws.

However, there are some concerns that a national law could be a way to override stricter local regulation.

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