According to a report published on Thursday, Microsoft deleted a massive facial recognition database, which contains roughly 10 million images featuring about 100,000 people.
Named MS Celeb, the database was built back in 2016 with the purpose of keeping images of celebrities across the world. Unfortunately, images of journalists, artists, musicians, activists, policy makers, writers, and academics made it to the database too, claims Vice.
As per a report on The New York Times, the Chinese government used facial recognition software to keep an eye on the Uighurs Muslim minority in the country, thanks to Chinese tech firms, SenseTime, and Megvii who got access the database.
“The site was intended for academic purposes,” Microsoft told the Financial Times. “It was run by an employee that is no longer with Microsoft and has since been removed.”
Prior to the deletion, pulling images from the database wasn’t a difficult task, thanks to the Creative Commons License, which is basically a key to access the database.
It’s worth pointing out that Microsoft earlier called for regulation on facial recognition software.
“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” Microsoft’s President Smith wrote in a blog post.