Illustration: Rebecca Zisser, Axios

IBM is facing a backlash after NBC News reported the company is using a set of Flickr images to help train a facial recognition system.

Why it matters: Although the photos in question were shared under a Creative Commons license, many photographers note they never imagined their images would be used in this way. Furthermore, the people shown in the images didn't consent to anything.

IBM defended its project as an effort to improve the accuracy of facial recognition and said it was being used for research, rather than commercial purposes. They said...

"IBM has been committed to building responsible, fair and trusted technologies for more than a century and believes it is critical to strive for fairness and accuracy in facial recognition."
"We take the privacy of individuals very seriously and have taken great care to comply with privacy principles, including limiting the Diversity in Faces dataset to publicly available image annotations and limiting the access of the dataset to verified researchers."

Flashback: IBM publicly said it selected a sampled subset of 1 million images from Yahoo's Flickr dataset when it first launched this project.

Community technologist Jessamyn West, who publicly criticized IBM for using 15 of her images, told Axios that she's concerned about the way permissions granted in one context are being used to do something entirely different.

"I'm less concerned with my own photo being used in some weird way by IBM but by what I see as 'mission creep' where these things start out as one thing and turn into another."

In response, IBM said those looking to opt out of the project, whether photographers or subjects, can do so here.

Go deeper: IBM release statements on the facial recognition AI project

Go deeper

Updated 16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With less than two weeks until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: New York reports most COVID cases since MayStudies show drop in coronavirus death rate — The next wave is gaining steam.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.
  5. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases.

U.S. officials: Iran and Russia aim to interfere in election

Iran and Russia have obtained voter registration information that can be used to undermine confidence in the U.S. election system, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: The revelation comes roughly two weeks before Election Day. Ratcliffe said Iran has sent threatening emails to Democratic voters this week in states across the U.S. and spread videos claiming that people can vote more than once.