IBM exits facial recognition space, calls for transparency and police reform

In a letter to the U.S. Congress, International Business Machines Corp’s new Chief Executive Officer Arvind Krishna said, it will no longer offer facial recognition or analysis software; IBM is also calling for efforts to pursue justice and racial equity.

IBM will stop offering facial recognition software and opposes any use of the technology for purposes of mass surveillance and racial profiling, said Krishna while calling for new federal rules to hold the police accountable for alleged misconduct.

Although the company did not explain the timing of its decision to exit from the facial recognition development space, Krishna told U.S. lawmakers “now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.”

The development comes in the wake of widespread protests over the death George Floyd under police custody in Minneapolis.

“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,” wrote Krishna while adding “technology can increase transparency and help police protect communities but must not promote discrimination or racial injustice.”

According to a report from CNBC, IBM’s facial recognition business did not garner significant revenues. According to a source familiar with the matter at hand, IBM’s decision to exit from the facial recognition space was made over a period of months.

IBM’s visual technology will now be limited to visual object detection, and not facial identification and analysis, said the source.

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