IBM turns away from facial recognition business

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – IBM said on Monday it is no longer selling general purpose facial recognition software and is opposed to using such technology for racial profiling or mass surveillance.

The stance against facial recognition systems that could potentially be used to target minorities or violate human rights was included in a letter IBM’s chief executive sent to members of United States (US) Congress.

“IBM no longer offers general purpose IBM facial recognition or analysis software,” wrote Arvind Krishna. “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.”

The century-old technology firm called for responsible national standards regarding how facial recognition systems should be used by police agencies.

“Technology can increase transparency and help police protect communities but must not promote discrimination or racial injustice,” Krishna said.

“Vendors and users of (artificial intelligence) systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularity when used in law enforcement,” he contended.

File photo shows people walking past the IBM logo. The company on Monday said it is no longer selling general purpose facial recognition software. PHOTO: AFP