SIA Testifies on Facial Recognition Before New Jersey Assembly

New Jersey legislature building

As part of the Security Industry Association’s (SIA’s) advocacy work on the issue of facial recognition, Drake Jamali, SIA’s manager of government relations, testified on Feb. 3 before the New Jersey Assembly of Legislators’ Committee on Science, Innovation and Technology.

Jamali’s testimony to the committee, led by Chairman Andrew Zwicker and Vice-Chair Linda Carter, provided industry input on New Jersey House Bill 1210 and the benefits facial recognition technology offers for the private and public sectors. See SIA’s testimony here.

Chairman Zwicker, Vice Chairwoman Carter and members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today. SIA is a trade association representing businesses that provide a broad range of security products for government, commercial and residential users, including businesses with employees and operations in New Jersey. We appreciate being able to provide industry input on how facial recognition offers tremendous benefits to the private and public sector.

Law enforcement uses this technology as a key investigative tool to help enhance public safety. Here are just two of many examples that we have seen in recent years. It has been used with great success to rescue human trafficking victims, identifying 9,000 missing children and over 10,000 traffickers. In one case last year, a law enforcement officer in California saw a social media post about a missing child from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. After law enforcement used facial recognition technology the victimized child was located and recovered. In another example last year, New York City Police Department detectives used the technology to identify a man who sparked terror by leaving a pair of rice cookers in a subway station. Using facial recognition technology, along with human review, detectives were able to identify the suspect within an hour. The chief of detectives was quoted saying, “To not use technology like this would be negligent.” 

The technology has also been used in the commercial space, primarily through allowing individuals to securely, quickly and conveniently prove their identity to enter a venue, board a plane, perform online transactions and seamlessly access personalized experiences. In addition, facial recognition has enabled private entities to secure their property against individuals seeking to commit violence, theft or other harm.

I must stress that SIA has a firm belief that all technology products, including facial recognition technology, must only be used for purposes that are lawful, ethical and non-discriminatory. Specifically, SIA believes facial recognition makes our country safer and brings value to our everyday lives when used effectively and responsibly.

Open discussions such as this one today can help make transparency a foundation that governs the use of facial recognition technology, for both commercial and government use. It should be clear when and under what circumstances the technology is used as well as the processes and procedures governing the collection, processing, storage, use of related data.

SIA applauds the work that the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is doing to create a use policy handbook and allow for greater transparency on the technology’s use around the state. The information shared earlier today by the attorney general’s office is helpful to understanding how the technology is a useful tool for enhancing public safety in New Jersey.

SIA suggests that further examination and multi-stakeholder dialogue on these issues should be undertaken before contemplating restrictions or a prohibition on this technology. We urge you to thoroughly examine how the technology is used, the issues at hand and the options available. Sensible transparency and accountability measures can be identified that would ensure responsible use of the technology without unreasonably restricting tools that have become so essential to public safety.