IBM exits facial recognition business, calls for police reform

Platform Industry: IBM office in Australia

IBM disclosed Monday it will no longer offer facial recognition or analysis software in a letter to Congress calling for new efforts to pursue justice and racial equity, new CEO Arvind Krishna has said.


  • International Business Machines will no longer offer facial recognition or analysis software
  • The business now opposes its use for purposes of mass surveillance and racial profiling
  • CEO Arvind Krishna also called for more federal rules to hold police accountable

The company will stop offering facial recognition software and opposes any use of such technology for purposes of mass surveillance and racial profiling, Krishna said, who also called for new federal rules to hold police more accountable for misconduct.

IBM did not explain the timing of its decision to exit facial recognition development but Krishna told lawmakers “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 announcement came as the US grapples with nationwide protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, under police custody in Minneapolis, and rising calls for police reform.

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

Government officials across the country have proposed reforms to address police brutality and racial injustice aimed at boosting oversight of law enforcement agencies.

Krishna, the key architect of IBM’s $34 billion Red Hat acquisition last year, took over as CEO back in April.

CNBC reported IBM’s facial recognition business did not generate significant revenue. A person familiar with the matter told Reuters the facial recognition product decisions were made over a period of months. The company will no longer market, sell or update the products but will support clients as needed, the person added.

IBM is no longer developing, creating, researching or selling facial recognition products in application programming interface or any other form. IBM’s visual technology will be limited only to visual object detection, not for facial analysis and identification, the person added.

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The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘IBM exits facial recognition business, calls for police reform‘ article. Automatic translation from English to a growing list of languages via Google AI Cloud Translation. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington. Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Christopher Cushing.

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