Microsoft Friday stated it might sell its stake in AnyVision, an Israeli facial recognition firm, and stated it no longer would make minority finances in firms that sell the disputed technology.
The decision underlines a policy change for the Redmond, Washington stationed software manufacturer, which has aimed to form how the tech sector uses facial recognition. Microsoft has defined principles to guide its personal development of the expertise, saying it should function without bias and must not impinge on democratic freedoms.
Civil liberties groups have said police use of facial recognition may result in unfair, arbitrary arrests and limit freedom of expression.
Microsoft came under investigation last summer for participating in a $74 million funding round for AnyVision, which critics stated contradicted the company’s principles.
AnyVision, based outside Tel Aviv, came under investigation following media reports that its technology was utilized to surveil Palestinians who lived in the overwhelmed West Bank. Microsoft later recruited former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and a team from Covington & Burling to investigate the claims.
The law agency found that AnyVision’s tech was in use at checkpoints in borders between Israel and the West Bank – as the startup had mentioned – however, that it had not fueled a mass surveillance program there, based on a copy of the audit’s findings posted on the website of M12, Microsoft’s venture fund.
Even so, Microsoft stated that as a result of the probe, it decided to exit the business of investing in facial recognition startups.