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A top Microsoft executive has said that stopping government agencies from using facial recognition software would be “cruel in its humanitarian effect.” More than 85 human rights groups wrote to Microsoft, Amazon, and Google last month demanding they stop selling facial recognition software to the public sector, fearing it will lead to government surveillance. Business Insider asked Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, about the letter at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He strongly rejected the idea that government agencies, including law enforcement, should step back from the technology. “I do not understand an argument that companies should avoid all licensing to any government agency for any purpose whatsoever. A sweeping ban on all government use clearly goes too far and risks being cruel in its humanitarian effect.”