SIA Adopts New Ethics Principles

Members of the security industry, from manufacturers to distributors to integrators, hold a unique position in the business community. While they design, sell and install products like firms in countless other sectors, the nature of their work means that they bear responsibilities that most others do not. They are, in a sense, businesses of trust.

Products, services, policies and procedures in the security industry have a direct impact on the safety and security of millions of people. They protect homes; harden schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure sites; and contribute to national defense. This means that members of the industry have a special duty – not only to those they directly serve, but to all of society, since, outside of the most remote places, virtually everyone encounters security devices.

To that end, the Security Industry Association (SIA), through its Ethics in Security Technology Working Group, has developed the SIA Membership Code of Ethics, a set of nine ethics principles designed to promote the highest standards of conduct among its members. These principles are more than just recommendations. As of July 1, all new and renewing SIA members will be required, as a condition of membership, to affirm that they will abide by the principles. If a member who has made that affirmation is determined by the SIA Executive Committee to have committed a material violation of one or more of the principles, that member may be subject to punitive action, ranging from a written warning to suspension of membership to expulsion from the association. All decisions by the Executive Committee concerning possible violations and SIA’s response will be final.

Several of the principles cover common business topics, from ensuring “honesty, integrity and transparency” in business practices to opposing “prejudice, harassment and abuse” to taking appropriate steps to protect sensitive personal information. Others, meanwhile, are focused on matters specific to the security industry.

Many security companies, naturally, work with law enforcement. In order to ensure a balance between the public safety benefits of these interactions and the individual right to privacy, one principle states that member organizations and their employees shall “work with law enforcement in an appropriate manner that enhances public safety while respecting the reasonable expectations of privacy held by customers and individuals whose images or information are captured by security devices.”

Another principle intended to secure privacy – while also, in certain cases, having implications for national security issues – states that members shall “ensure that their products, services and solutions are not designed or manufactured in such a manner as to surreptitiously transmit information to third parties for purposes outside the normal and expected scope of security and business operations.”

Finally, in language that grows out of the ideal that security technology should never be used for abusive or harmful purposes, a principle requires SIA members to “refuse to knowingly design, manufacture, sell or deploy products, services or solutions that have been finally determined by any supranational, national, federal, state or local governmental authority or any self-regulatory entity, whether foreign or domestic, having competent jurisdiction over the applicable member organization to support the infliction of human rights abuses, the restriction of civil liberties and/or the implementation of other oppressive measures.”

Questions and comments about the ethics principles may be directed to Messages that allege violations by companies that have affirmed adherence to the principles will be forwarded to the SIA Executive Committee for adjudication.