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IBM Will No Longer Offer Or Develop Facial Recognition Software In Pursuit Of Racial Justice Reform

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IBM’s CEO has told Congress on Monday that the tech firm will no longer offer, develop or research facial recognition technology as it strongly opposes the technology’s use for “mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedom,” The Verge reports

Key Facts

Arvind Krishna addressed the letter to Democratic senators, including Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), calling for racial justice reform.

He wrote, “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.”

He told the Verge that the company will also stop developing and researching the technology.

Krishna added that IBM “firmly opposes” the use of facial recognition technology inconsistent with the firm’s Principles of Trust and Transparency, which promotes “responsible and transparent” use of AI and “transformative innovations.”

In the letter, Krishna said IBM is seeking to work with Congress on issues of police reform and “holding police more accountable for misconduct.”

Key Background

The technology is increasingly used by law enforcement. But studies in recent years, including by researchers Joy Buolamwini and Timnit Gebru, have revealed the extent of bias in facial recognition tech and how this leads to a disproportionate targeting of people on the basis of race or ethnicity, as well as violation of privacy.

As a result, companies providing the tech have come under increasing legal pressure, including tech company Clearview AI, while Facebook this year agreed to settle a lawsuit for $550 million—the largest payout related to a privacy case yet—after it was accused of storing users’ biometric data without consent.


Critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have renewed calls for Amazon to halt its Rekognition facial recognition technology that was sold to the likes of ICE and police departments, accusing it of being the “most dangerous surveillance technology ever developed”.

The appeal reemerged amid ongoing protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody, which has refocused the world’s attention on the disproportionate targeting of black people by law enforcement in the United States.

Source: Forbes

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