Citing Racial Profiling, IBM Will No Longer Sell Face Recognition Software

IBM Facial Recognition

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) is getting out of the facial recognition business, citing its misuse by law enforcement.

In a letter to Congress, IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna said the company will stop offering facial recognition software and opposes use of the technology for racial profiling and surveillance.

“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,” 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.”

The letter to five members of Congress, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), U.S. Reps. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), was sent during the same week the nation was awash in protests over the death of 46-year-old George Floyd on Memorial Day. His funeral was shown live on most networks on Tuesday (June 9).

Since the incident, there have been nationwide calls for police reforms to address police brutality and racial injustice. Some have advocated replacing police departments with another form of law enforcement.

Krishna’s three-page letter urges Congress to establish a police misconduct registry and to urge states and municipalities to update use-of-force policies. He also suggested that lawmakers consider enacting the Walter Scott Notification Act.

The measure, introduced by U.S. Sen. Timothy Scott, a South Carolina Republican, was filed after Walter Scott, an unarmed black man not related to the senator, was shot and killed in North Charleston, South Carolina in 2015 by Michael Slager, a white police officer, as the victim fled after being stopped for a faulty brake light. The legislation would require states that receive federal funding to provide details on the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers to the Department of Justice or face budget cuts.

As reported by PYMNTS, a new law in Washington State regarding facial recognition technology seeks to safeguard civil liberties.