U.S. President Donald Trump today retweeted a Tweet from Richard Grenell, the former acting director of the National Intelligence Agency, calling for microsoft to be banned from taking federal contracts for refusing to sell facial recognition software to U.S. police departments. “They (Microsoft) should now give a contract to the federal government that is prohibited from taking over – they should bear the consequences of not selling technology to the police department,” Grenell tweeted. “
The White House has yet to comment.
Microsoft announced Thursday that it will not sell facial recognition technology to U.S. police departments, at least until federal law regulates the technology. The move comes after technology giants IBM and Amazon both restricted plans to sell facial recognition.
The recent death of George Floyd sparked anti-racism protests around the world. In recent years, technology companies have rapidly expanded their collaboration with law enforcement agencies, providing them with sophisticated surveillance tools that have raised concerns about privacy and discrimination among citizens. Studies have shown that commercial facial recognition algorithms often incorrectly identify minorities and people of color.
Last October, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded Microsoft a technology contract worth up to $10 billion, making it the federal government’s preferred cloud computing provider. Amazon, the leader in the cloud services market, unexpectedly lost.
In response, Amazon argued that President Trump interfered in the bidding process and improperly influenced its decision not to award it a $10 billion cloud contract. Mr. Trump is known to have a “holiday” with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive. To that end, Amazon has filed a lawsuit.