IBM will no longer develop and research facial recognition or analysis software and, on top of that, it will no longer offer the technology for general-purposes.
This is part of the company’s mission to advance racial equality in the US after #BlackLivesMatter protests – campaigning against violence and systemic racism towards the black community – were organised all over the world.
“IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency,” says Arvind Krishna, IBM CEO, in a letter to Congress.
Krishna wrote that such technology could be used by police to violate “basic human rights and freedoms,” and that would be out of step with the company’s values.
“We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies,” Krishna said.
The nationwide demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd already have led to changes to police departments around the country – over use of force policies, police misconduct and police contracts.
Krishna continues to say that IBM believes now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.
In the last decade, incredible milestones in the development of facial recognition technology have been achieved – often due to breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.
However, according to The Verge, “the technology — because it is often provided by private companies with little regulation or federal oversight — has been shown to suffer from bias along lines of age, race, and ethnicity, which can make the tools unreliable for law enforcement and security and ripe for potential civil rights abuses”.