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IBM terminates facial recognition, calls for better reforms

The company will stop offering facial recognition software and opposes any use of such technology for purposes of mass surveillance and racial profiling.

SNS | New Delhi |

Technology giant International Business Machines (IBM) has terminated its general purpose facial recognition and analysis software products in a new effort to pursue justice and racial equity said the company’s CEO, Arvind Krishna, on Monday in a letter to the US Congress.

IBM CEO said that users of Artificial Intelligence-based systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularity when used in law enforcement. It is important to ensure that such bias testing is audited and reported, he said in the letter that offered some policy proposals to advance racial equality in the US.

The company will stop offering facial recognition software and opposes any use of such technology for purposes of mass surveillance and racial profiling, Krishna said, who also called for new federal rules to hold police more accountable for misconduct.

“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.

“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 said.

This tech is often used as a tool that can help law enforcement agencies to quickly track criminals, facial recognition technology has courted controversy for the enormous potential of its misuse and lack of regulation.

A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US, published in December 2019, found “empirical evidence for the existence of a wide range of accuracy across demographic differences in the majority of the current face recognition algorithms that were evaluated.”

IBM did not explain the timing of its decision to exit facial recognition development but Krishna told 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 announcement came as the United States grapples with nationwide protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, under police custody in Minneapolis, and rising calls for police reform.