Responsible AI investments and safeguards for facial recognition


Written by Sarah Bird, Principal Group Product Manager, Azure AI


A core priority for the Cognitive Services team is to ensure its AI technology, including facial recognition, is developed and used responsibly. While we have adopted six essential principles to guide our work in AI more broadly, we recognized early on that the unique risks and opportunities posed by facial recognition technology necessitate its own set of guiding principles.


To strengthen our commitment to these principles and set up a stronger foundation for the future, Microsoft is announcing meaningful updates to its Responsible AI Standard, the internal playbook that guides our AI product development and deployment. As part of aligning our products to this new Standard, we have updated our approach to facial recognition including adding a new Limited Access policy, removing AI classifiers of sensitive attributes, and bolstering our investments in fairness and transparency.


Safeguards for responsible use

We continue to provide consistent and clear guidance on the responsible deployment of facial recognition technology and advocate for laws to regulate it, but there is still more we must do.


Effective today, new customers need to apply for access to use facial recognition operations in Azure Face API, Computer Vision, and Video Indexer. Existing customers have one year to apply and receive approval for continued access to the facial recognition services based on their provided use cases. By introducing Limited Access, we add an additional layer of scrutiny to the use and deployment of facial recognition to ensure use of these services aligns with Microsoft’s Responsible AI Standard and contributes to high-value end-user and societal benefit. This includes introducing use case and customer eligibility requirements to gain access to these services. Read about example use cases, and use cases to avoid, here. Starting June 30, 2023, existing customers will no longer be able to access facial recognition capabilities if their facial recognition application has not been approved. Submit an application form for facial and celebrity recognition operations in Face API, Computer Vis..., and our team will be in touch via email.


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