A top Google executive recently sent a shot across the bow of its competitors regarding face surveillance. Kent Walker, the company’s general counsel and senior vice president of global affairs, made it clear that Google — unlike Amazon and Microsoft — will not sell a face recognition product until the technology’s potential for abuse is addressed.
Face recognition, powered by artificial intelligence, could allow the government to supercharge surveillance by automating identification and tracking. Authorities could use it to track protesters, target vulnerable communities (such as immigrants), and create digital policing in communities of color that are already subject to pervasive police monitoring.
So how are the world’s biggest technology companies responding to this serious threat to privacy, safety and civil rights?
► Google at least appears to be taking the risks seriously with its recent announcement.
► Microsoft, unfortunately, is just talking the talk.
► And Amazon is completely running amok
All three companies need to take responsibility for uses of their technology. Now, a nationwide coalition of civil rights organizations have demanded that they not sell face surveillance to the government.