On the back of the horrific treatment of George Floyd a call for further measures to monitor police actions and increase accountability would not be unexpected. However, interestingly IBM, a leader in the provision of facial identification as a service, appear to be considering a rethink about how the technology should be used. CEO Arvind Krishna voiced support for a new bill aiming to reduce police violence, but called for a national dialogue about how/if the technology should be used.

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. 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 - Arvind Krishna, IBM CEO

No doubt, we all agree that the scenes in Minneapolis should never occur again, that discourse should take place, and measures be implemented to ensure this is the case. However, I welcome Krishna’s call for national dialogue on the use the technology in this area. In particular, I find it encouraging that while promoting the use of body cameras in some areas, he appears to discourage, or at least limit, the use of facial recognition in conjunction with the cameras. While it is true that body cameras in some scenarios may be part of a larger solution to this issue, ubiquitous surveillance is not, and something hopefully we can avoid.

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