There are a ton of benefits to facial recognition technology, but there is also the issue of privacy where many probably do not feel too comfortable about the idea of walking down the street and have cameras be able to recognize who we are. Most of us probably don’t really have much to hide to begin with, but everyone should be afforded some level of privacy, shouldn’t they?
That’s what Microsoft seems to agree on because according to reports, the company has quietly wiped its facial recognition database. For those who might be unfamiliar, Microsoft published a database several years ago called the MS Celeb. It was a publicly available database that was designed to train facial recognition systems using 10 million images of about 100,000 people.
These photos mostly contain photos of celebrities which is why consent was not required, although it was later discovered that it also contained images of people who might not be considered celebrities, such as journalists and authors. The database has since been deleted, but according to Microsoft’s official statement, it wasn’t bcause of that.
In a statement issued to FT.com, Microsoft said, “The site was intended for academic purposes. It was run by an employee that is no longer with Microsoft.” To Microsoft’s credit, the company has been going about trying to get the US government to regulate the tech, where they even blocked the sales of the tech to law enforcement in California.