Microsoft Secretly Deletes All Of Its Facial Recognition Database

Posted: Jun 7 2019, 12:21am CDT | by , in Technology News

 

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Microsoft Secretly Deletes All of Its Facial Recognition Database

Privacy is also a top concern at Microsoft.

The revelation that top tech firms were working with the US government and others to develop facial recognition technology had more than a few consumer advocacy and privacy watchdog groups concerned about the implications of such a project.

Basically, the main issue with it was whether or not this would lead to the development of some form of technology that would rob people of their rights to privacy or even a fair trial. In some cases, concerns were advanced that such technology could be the ultimate ruin of privacy and data security in a civil society.

Brad Smith, company president for Microsoft, even addressed specifically the potential for abuses of this kind of technology in an address to Congress in 2018 according to Engadget.

As far as Microsoft was concerned, that’s all they needed to hear on the issue and the company was the first (among others) to really start backing away from the whole project.

Now they’re taking it even a step further by deleting their facial recognition software database called MS Celeb which has over 10 million images of 100,000 individuals that were used in the development of the software. Released to the public in 2016, Microsoft claimed it was the largest repository of facial recognition images anywhere.

Interestingly, the people in the photos were not asked for permission to use these photos in any way and this lent the name Celeb to the MS Celeb moniker as the people were celebrities which allowed Microsoft to use the photos under a Creative Commons license, Engadget reports.

Nonetheless, as Engadget’s reference to Berlin-based researcher Adam Harvey reveals, once such a set of data is made public, it can never really be recovered or destroyed which makes Microsoft’s action more symbolic than anything else. For those more pessimistic among us, some would call it a pyrrhic victory for data privacy.

“The site was intended for academic purposes...It was run by an employee that is no longer with Microsoft,” a blog post on Microsoft said, addressing the deletion.

All of this comes on the heels of an in-depth investigation by the Financial Times and other publications that looked into Big Tech’s involved in government schemes such as facial recognition. Like many have pointed out, the symbolic action is likely nothing more than a public expression of solidarity with activists but it points to a deep divide in tech that is worth noting.

As consumer-facing companies, Microsoft, Apple, and Google are under particular pressure to be seen as favoring the customer and his needs over that of a governmental entity. After all, the vast majority of revenues for some of these companies derive from consumers that use their products out of trust.

Contributing to the erosion of data privacy, or even helping to make software that could potentially rob people of their rights, will never factor in to this equation yet the debate must be had to insure that whoever does pick up that bit of market niche also knows the ethical concerns surrounding the situation.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Manfred "Luigi" Lugmayr () is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 25 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets, tech and online shopping. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology news and tech and toy shopping hub.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml[@]i4u.com.

 

 

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