In a letter to members of Congress, IBM says it will abandon the general-purpose facial recognition business, and that the company opposes the use of facial recognition for mass surveillance.
In the letter, IBM's CEO says the company will no longer sell facial recognition services, and calls for a "national dialogue" on whether facial recognition should be used at all, citing concerns about "mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms."
"IBM no longer offers general purpose IBM facial recognition or analysis software," CEO Arvind Krishna said in the letter. "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."
"Your turn, Amazon," said Fabio Chiusi on Twitter.
There's a lot more impact in this than a black square or a brandwashing tweet about Black Lives mattering.
Then again, IBM was already responsible for human rights atrocities in a previous generation: they aided and assisted and provided technology for Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime, and made the process of killing Jewish people and others in concentration camps more effective and efficient.
"yeah, y'know, we already contributed to one of the most notorious genocides in human history by selling computers to literal Nazis. maybe we should sit this one out" https://t.co/RfvJxnBfce
— ★ Alice D @ #EndlessSuffering2020 ★ (@AmyZenunim) June 9, 2020
And the previous 109 years of work? All the infrastructure IBM has built, systems IBM has maintained, ideas IBM has seeded, narratives IBM has constructed? Gonna remain silent on that? Let the past be the past? Bravely look to the future? Yeah, thought so. https://t.co/F0BZH9nnaj
— Jathan Sadowski (@jathansadowski) June 9, 2020
This is brilliant:
1) Fall woefully behind in a technology
2) Realize that you have no chance of ever catching up
3) Declare that the technology that you can't do is evil and promise to do no more of it
4) Write a letter to Congress
5) Profit! https://t.co/YggrVcD0Kp
— Chris Anderson (@chr1sa) June 9, 2020
While some companies think it's enough to tweet support for social justice while marketing a tool for oppression, IBM gets out of the facial recognition business & states opposition to mass surveillance & racial profiling. https://t.co/50wGBnYZqL
— Evan Selinger (@EvanSelinger) June 9, 2020
If the Americans won't advance this technology, the Chinese will. And it will become yet another thing Americans import from China. https://t.co/1lPbqYvOxg
— Mustapha Hamoui (@Beirutspring) June 9, 2020
— Srinivas Kodali (@digitaldutta) June 9, 2020