Microsoft Updates Azure OpenAI Policy on Facial Recognition

Microsoft Updates Azure OpenAI Policy on Facial Recognition

Aya Yamamoto
2 min read

Microsoft's Azure OpenAI Update Prohibits Facial Recognition for US Police Departments

Microsoft has updated its Azure OpenAI conduct language to explicitly prohibit the use of its AI models for facial recognition purposes by or for a police department in the United States. This includes use cases where mobile cameras are used by law enforcement globally "in the wild" or where patrolling police officers use body-worn or dash-mounted cameras to verify identities. The update also disallows identification of individuals within a database of suspects or prior inmates. Microsoft's Code of Conduct already prohibited using the Azure OpenAI system to identify or verify individual identities based on people’s faces or other physical, physiological, or behavioral characteristics. The new language outlines more specific bans on police agencies using AI systems for data collection.

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft prohibits use of its Azure OpenAI services for facial recognition by police departments in the US.
  • Specific use cases banned include use of mobile cameras by law enforcement globally and patrolling police officers' body-worn or dash-mounted cameras.
  • Microsoft also disallows identification of individuals within a database of suspects or prior inmates.
  • New language outlines more specific bans on police agencies using AI systems for data collection.
  • Recent ProPublica report highlights the use of AI-powered tools by police departments to examine hours of footage from traffic stops and other civilian interactions.


Microsoft's Azure OpenAI facial recognition ban for US police departments may impact other countries' law enforcement agencies due to its global reach. This decision may pressure other tech companies to follow suit, reshaping the AI industry's landscape. The short-term consequences include potential backlash from law enforcement organizations reliant on such technology for surveillance and identity verification. However, the long-term effects could foster more responsible AI usage, aligning with ethical guidelines and ensuring privacy protection. This move may also encourage innovation in alternative, non-invasive methods for law enforcement. ProPublica's report on AI-powered tools in police work highlights the need for regulation and oversight, making Microsoft's decision timely and essential.

Did You Know?

  • Azure OpenAI: Azure OpenAI is a cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) platform offered by Microsoft. It allows developers to build and deploy AI models that can analyze and interpret large amounts of data. The platform is built on top of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing service and uses OpenAI's machine learning models.

  • Facial Recognition: Facial recognition is a type of biometric technology that uses AI algorithms to identify or verify individuals based on their facial features. It involves analyzing a person's face image and comparing it to a database of known faces to identify or verify their identity. Facial recognition technology has been widely adopted by law enforcement agencies for various purposes, including identifying suspects, locating missing persons, and verifying identities.

  • Data Collection: Data collection refers to the process of gathering information or data from various sources for analysis or storage. In the context of the news article, Microsoft is prohibiting the use of its Azure OpenAI platform for data collection by police departments, specifically in relation to facial recognition. This means that police departments cannot use Azure OpenAI to collect data about individuals based on their facial features, either through mobile cameras, body-worn cameras, or databases of suspects or prior inmates.

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