Microsoft Clarifies Ban on U.S. Police Departments Using Enterprise AI for Facial Recognition

Microsoft has clarified its ban on U.S. police departments using generative AI for facial recognition through Azure OpenAI Service, the company’s enterprise-focused wrapper around OpenAI tech.

Language added to the terms of service for Azure OpenAI Service explicitly prohibits integrations with Azure OpenAI Service from being used by or for police departments for facial recognition in the U.S., including integrations with OpenAI’s image-analyzing models.

A new bullet point also extends the ban to any law enforcement globally, explicitly barring the use of real-time facial recognition technology on mobile cameras in uncontrolled environments.

The changes in policy come after criticism of potential pitfalls with using AI in law enforcement, including hallucinations and racial biases.

It is unclear whether the ban was in response to a specific product launch by Axon, a maker of tech and weapons products for military and law enforcement.

The new terms do allow for some flexibility, only completely banning U.S. police from using Azure OpenAI Service for facial recognition.

This aligns with Microsoft’s recent approach to AI-related law enforcement and defense contracts, including partnerships with the Pentagon.

Azure OpenAI Service, which was added to Microsoft’s Azure Government product in February, offers additional compliance and management features for government agencies.

Update: Microsoft has clarified that the ban on using Azure OpenAI Service for facial recognition only applies to the U.S., not a complete ban on police departments using the service.