Tech giant IBM has pulled its facial recognition software off the market and is calling for a dialogue on how its technology has been used by law enforcement to racially profile suspects in the United States.
In a public letter to Congress, IBM chief executive, Arvind Krishna, gave an explanation for the company’s decision to pull its software by saying: “To work with Congress in pursuit of justice and racial equity, focused initially in three key policy areas: police reform, responsible use of technology, and broadening skills and educational opportunities.”
“Congress should bring more police misconduct cases under federal court purview and should make modifications to the qualified immunity doctrine that prevents individuals from seeking damages when police violate their constitutional rights. Congress should also establish a federal registry of police misconduct and adopt measures to encourage or compel states and localities to review and update use-of-force policies.”
“We also urge Congress to consider legislation such as the Walter Scott Notification Act, sponsored by Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, which would require that states receiving federal funding report more details on the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers to the Department of Justice so that an accurate picture of such incidents is available for public scrutiny and analysis.”
“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 added.
“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.”
Some have scrutinised IBM’s move, however, saying that the company was not even in the lead in the race to sell facial-recognition technology, and that its statement has many loopholes.
IBM reserves the right to sell facial-recognition technology for specific purposes, such as re-selling the same technology to other vendors as part of its consultation business.