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General purpose facial recognition or analysis software will no longer be offered, developed, or researched by IBM. The company's CEO, Arvind Krishna, shared a letter with Congress stating the decision on Monday.
The letter was written in support of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. Krishna advocated for reforms for responsible use of technology, and to combat systematic racial injustice along with police misconduct.
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"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," wrote Krishna in the letter.
Krishna, who became CEO of IBM in April this year, also pushed forward the idea that Congress should start a national dialogue on how facial recognition technology can have serious implications, and how it "should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies."
Furthermore, Krishna believes that more audits need to be carried out on the tech, as there is often some racial bias found in AI systems today, and that "greater transparency and accountability to policing, such as body cameras and modern data analytics techniques," needs to occur.
Facial recognition technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the past few years. However, as there hasn't been much official checking of it, it's been able to largely run unregulated and has even been able to violate user privacy.
More recently, well-known AI tech company, Clearview AI has come under some scrutiny. The company was able to build an entire database from more than three billion images mostly taken from scraping social media sites. The company is now juggling a number of privacy lawsuits.
Perhaps IBM will lead the way for other tech firms to follow suit.