Microsoft Policeware in the Line Up of Vendors of Interest

July 20, 2020

The Intercept published “The Microsoft Police State: Mass Surveillance, Facial Recognition, and the Azure Cloud.” Better late than never, “real” news about Microsoft’s race to catch up to Amazon and other specialist vendors is helpful.

The article uses the NYPD and other departments as examples of enforcement entities interested in Microsoft technology.

  • And the write up explains these as evidence of a “police state” operated by the Softies in Redmond:
  • A Domain Awareness System run from the Azure cloud. Not a Banjo duplicate, but close enough for horseshoes.
  • An Internet of Things MAPP patrol car and a connected officer
  • Robots like the Jack Russell and the LT2-F Bloodhound
  • Smart software which seems similar to the ZTE installations in Quito, Ecuador
  • Facial recognition technology, which has become the poster child for questionable technology.

Several observations:

  • Other vendors are in the game as well, and several are providing more sophisticated solutions. Intercept’s focus seems, how shall I put it, narrow
  • In my talks at the National Cyber Crime conference this week I put one theme in each of my three lectures: “Smart software is the best bet for restoring parity between bad actors and law enforcement.” Maybe the NYPD and other departments should abandon technology trials, experiments, and acquisitions to make the social fabric so much better
  • The purpose of the Intercept write up seems bifurcated. On one hand, the Microsoft capabilities struck me as a check list from a marketing sales presentation. On the other hand, law enforcement is not behaving the way the Intercept believes the police, regulators, and investigators should. Mixed message? Cognitive dissonance? Bias?

Net net: Technology and smart software are essential tools for the foreseeable future.

Stephen E Arnold, July 20, 2020

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