ACLU senior staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler was concerned not just that Microsoft wanted to sell a “dangerous” tech to an agency involved in a “racist drug war,” but that it came just as the US Attorney General had reportedly expanded the DEA’s surveillance powers. The DEA could misuse the tech to spy on people protesting police brutality, Wessler speculated.
We’ve asked Microsoft for comment. The company has defended federal contracts in the past, but not universally so. While it argued that a military HoloLens contract was important to support people who “protect the freedoms” of Americans, it justified an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement deal by noting that it didn’t cover the agency’s most controversial practices. The DEA case is another matter — there’s little doubt that facial recognition would be used for contentious purposes.