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Microsoft president Brad Smith. Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft wants the U.S. government to start thinking about what limits should be set on the use of face recognition technology. In a blog post, Microsoft also said it is consulting with outside groups to help set its own policies for how it will use and sell such technology.

Why it matters: Face recognition can be used for a range of purposes, from reuniting missing kids to mass surveillance. Currently, there are few rules for those using or selling the technology.

What they're saying: "The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself," Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a blog post. "And if there are concerns about how a technology will be deployed more broadly across society, the only way to regulate this broad use is for the government to do so."

First steps: Microsoft is calling for a bipartisan committee of experts to help inform congressional action.

  • For its own part, Smith said Microsoft is going to move slowly on commercial use of face recognition while it explores what its own policies should be. Notably, though, the company didn't say it would stop work on existing projects or even reject additional ones.

Our thought bubble: Companies may feel safer handing government the hot potato of figuring out where to draw lines around this potentially controversial technology. But government may not be inclined to limit its own freedom to use the new tools.

Counterpoint: If the big companies say no, some upstart would probably seize the opportunity instead. And neither China's government nor its companies are likely considering similar limits, meaning that the U.S. could fall behind on a key emerging technology if it sets too many roadblocks.

Go deeper

DeSantis declares state of emergency after deadly Miami-area condo collapse

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declared a state of emergency after a portion of a 12-story residential building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to AP.

The latest: The executive order will allow for federal assistance as the state continues its search-and-rescue operations. Officials have accounted for 102 people who lived in the high-rise Champlain Towers South, but 99 people remained unaccounted for by mid-afternoon, said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County at a press conference.

1 hour ago - World

Afghan president visits D.C. amid growing fears of Taliban takeover

An Afghan soldier stands guard at a mosque in Kabul. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty

As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was making his way to Washington to meet with President Biden, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the U.S. intelligence community believes his government may be toppled within six months of America's withdrawal.

Why it matters: As the Taliban gains territory and the U.S. pulls its remaining forces out, hopes of a potential peace deal in Afghanistan are giving way to fears of a rapid Taliban capture of Kabul.

1 hour ago - Health

Exclusive: Bipartisan group of senators urges Blinken to vaccinate Americans abroad

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) are leading an effort urging the Biden administration to coordinate with the Defense Department to donate supplemental COVID-19 vaccine doses to U.S. embassies and consulates.

Why it matters: Millions of Americans living in countries where they are not considered eligible for the vaccine or those living in places where vaccines are not being authorized by the FDA or the World Health Organization may have to wait for months or even years to receive a vaccine.