IBM to withdraw from facial recognition market out of profiling fears

Big Blue worries the technology is being used to promote discrimination and racial injustice.


IBM announced Monday that it's withdrawing from the general-purpose facial recognition market, saying it worries that the technology is being used to promote discrimination and racial injustice.


"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," CEO Arvind Krishna said in a letter to congressional leaders on Monday.


"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 company said.


Facial recognition has faced a backlash from privacy advocates and lawmakers, and a handful of cities have banned the municipal use of the technology. Last year, Democratic lawmakers proposed prohibiting public housing units from using technology like facial recognition. Still, facial recognition is on track to become pervasive in airports and shopping centres, and some companies are selling it to police departments


IBM didn't offer additional comment.


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