Issue: Facial Recognition
New research shows public support for Facial Recognition
In a demographically-matched survey of U.S. adults conducted in August 2020, Schoen Cooperman Research found widespread public support of facial recognition applications. The statistics showed positive support of facial recognition for public safety, air travel, workplace and other application areas.
SIA Principles for the Responsible and Effective Use of Facial Recognition Technology
SIA believes facial recognition must be used only for purposes that are lawful, ethical and nondiscriminatory. This document explores SIA’s values and the benefits of facial recognition, outlines each of SIA’s core principles regarding the responsible and effective use of facial recognition technology and makes recommendations for public- and private-sector applications of the technology, including use of facial recognition by law enforcement.
Here are several examples of positive use cases of facial recognition technology highlighting how the technology can help protect against violence, theft or other harm. For more detailed examples and success stories, see SIA's article here.
Identifying and Arresting an Assailant
Finding an Alleged Shooter
Bringing a Sexual Predator to Justice
Identifying a Killer Who Targeted LGBTQ+ Victims
Enabling More Accurate Identification
Protecting Patients, Staff & Critical Research in Health Care Settings
Strengthening Airport Security
Identifying an Armed Robber in Indiana
Identifying the Capital Gazette Gunman
Combating Forced Labor Trafficking
Improving Investigations and Public Safety
Solving a Child Molestation Cold Case
Fighting Human Trafficking
Finding an Alleged Rapist
Catching Impostors Using Fraudulent Passports at Airports
Identifying a Murderer in Las Vegas
Advances in computing power, combined with rapid improvements in the quality of photo and video technology developed by the security industry over the last 15 years, have allowed facial recognition technology to develop and mature.
Use of facial recognition technology has benefited Americans in countless but underpublicized ways – helping law enforcement find missing children, fight human trafficking, find dangerous criminals and bring sexual predators to justice. At the same time, the technology allows individuals to quickly and conveniently prove their identity to enter a venue, board a plane, perform online transactions and seamlessly access personalized experiences.
Facial recognition is critical to the security field because it enhances capabilities of solutions like video security, access control and identity management systems that help our customers secure their facilities, employees and patrons against the threat of violence, theft or other harm.
Facial recognition technology makes our country safer and brings value to our everyday lives when used effectively and responsibly. SIA believes all technology products, including biometric technologies, must only be used for purposes that are lawful, ethical and nondiscriminatory.
Facial recognition is highly accurate. According to tests of the leading algorithms by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the accuracy of facial recognition technology is now over 20 times better than it was in 2014 and is reaching that of automated fingerprint comparison, which is generally viewed as the gold standard for identification.
Transparency should be the 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 it. Greater transparency and accountability measures are the best ways to address concerns and ensure responsible use of the technology, without unreasonably restricting tools that have become essential to public safety. We do not support a moratorium or ban on the use of this critical technology.
SIA Op/Eds & News Coverage
- Axios Twin Cities: Minneapolis Poised to Ban Police From Using Facial Recognition Tech (Feb. 12, 2021)
- Bloomberg Politics: Facial Recognition Lobby Urges Caution on U.S. Zeal to Regulate (Aug. 18, 2020)
- Chicago Daily Herald: Technology Law Needs to Be Updated to Protect Illinoisans (March 4, 2022)
- CNBC: States Move to Limit Government Use of Facial Recognition Software (May 19, 2021)
- Colorado Public Radio (CPR) News: Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology Could Soon Be Under Review by State Task Force (May 24, 2022)
- Fox 9: Minneapolis City Council Approves Ordinance Banning Use of Facial Recognition Technology (Feb. 13, 2021)
- Fox 13: Should Law Enforcement Use Facial Recognition Technology? (April 1, 2022)
- Gotham Gazette: The Case for Touchless Interface Technologies in a Post-COVID-19 World (May 29, 2020)
- The Guardian: Minneapolis Poised to Ban Facial Recognition for Police Use (Feb. 12, 2021)
- KIRO 7: King County Passes Ban on Facial Recognition Technology (June 2, 2021)
- Morning Consult: Touchless Interface for Hygienic Access in Health Care and Travel (April 24, 2020)
- National Law Review: City of Baltimore May Criminalize the Use of Facial Recognition Technologies by Businesses (June 21, 2021)
- Patch: Bills Would Ban Facial Recognition and Study Police-Shooting Oversight (Jan. 24, 2020)
- Reuters: U.S. Cities Are Backing Off Banning Facial Recognition as Crime Rises (May 12, 2022)
- WIRED: Congress Is Eyeing Face Recognition, and Companies Want a Say (Nov. 23, 2020)
- WIRED: Baltimore May Soon Ban Facial Recognition for Everyone but Cops (June 18, 2021)
Facial Recognition Resources
Face Facts: How Facial Recognition Makes Us Safer and the Dangers of a Blanket Ban
Facial recognition technology makes our country safer and brings value to our everyday lives when used effectively and responsibly. The Security Industry Association (SIA) believes all technology products, including facial recognition technology, must only be used for purposes that are lawful, ethical and non-discriminatory.
In this fact sheet, SIA outlines the accuracy and key benefits of modern facial recognition technology and why a blanket ban puts Americans at risk and shares real stories of how facial recognition technology keeps Americans safe.
What NIST Data Shows About Facial Recognition and Demographics
In December 2019, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published the most comprehensive report to date on the performance of facial recognition algorithms – the core component of facial recognition technology – across race, gender and other demographic groups. The most significant takeaway from the NIST report is that it confirms current facial recognition technology performs far more effectively across racial and other demographic groups than had been widely reported; however, we’ve seen some misleading conclusions drawn from the highly technical 1,500-page report. A closer look at the findings in their proper context is essential to understanding the implications.
Face Facts: Dispelling Common Myths Associated With Facial Recognition Technology
For many years, use of advanced facial recognition technology has benefited Americans in countless but underpublicized ways – helping to find missing children, fight human trafficking, secure the border, find dangerous criminals, bring sexual predators to justice and thwart identity thieves. Rapid growth, particularly for commercial uses, has prompted important discussions related to data privacy and increasing transparency and accountability measures; however, recent calls for complete bans on facial recognition technology (such as recently in San Francisco) are based on a misleading picture of how the technology works and its real-world uses. Americans deserve to know the facts. This resource addresses some of the common myths.
SIA Position Statements
Letter Expressing Concerns With Proposed Boston Facial Recognition Ban
In a June 10, 2020, letter to Boston City Council President Kim Janey, SIA CEO Don Erickson expressed SIA’s concerns with a proposed ordinance banning facial recognition technology in Boston, which would prohibit any city government official from leveraging facial recognition technology or any information obtained using the technology. SIA believes all technology products must only be used for purposes that are lawful, ethical and nondiscriminatory. Facial recognition technology offers tremendous benefits to citizens when used effectively and responsibility. SIA believes that eliminating the potential benefits to Bostonians by completely banning its use is premature.
SIA Testimony on Facial Recognition Technology: Ensuring Commercial Transparency and Accuracy
On Jan. 15, 2020, SIA joined the Future of Privacy Forum, NIST, the AI Now Institute at New York University and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform at the hearing Facial Recognition Technology (Part III): Ensuring Commercial Transparency & Accuracy. Jake Parker, senior director of government relations at SIA, represented the association before the committee, discussing the importance of using facial recognition responsibly, beneficial applications of facial recognition in commercial and private-sector environments, the importance of transparency when applying facial recognition, how the industry is creating use principles, the takeaways of NIST’s recent report on the technology and the accuracy of facial recognition. [View SIA's press release.]
Coalition Letter Opposing a Moratorium on Facial Recognition Technology
SIA, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several other organizations, has urged Congress to collaborate with all stakeholders to address concerns raised by facial recognition technology and provide a consistent set of rules across the United States rather than issue a moratorium on the technology. In an Oct. 16, 2019, letter to Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the coalition outlines the history of facial recognition and its prevalent use across various industries, the potential consequences of a moratorium on the technology and recent innovation and work to ethically and responsibly govern the technology.
SIA Signs Multi-Organization Letter to Congress on Facial Recognition
On Sept. 26, 2019, SIA joined a group of organizations, including the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, CompTIA, the Consumer Technology Association, the Electronic Security Association and the National Police Foundation, in signing a letter to encourage Congress to consider many of the viable alternatives to bans so that law enforcement can use facial recognition technology safely, accurately and effectively.
NEWS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- U.S. States and Cities Rethinking Bans, Setting Rules for Law Enforcement Use of Facial Recognition (May 10, 2022)
- Examples of Successful Use of Facial Recognition in Virginia (March 15, 2022)
- Virginia's New Rules for Facial Recognition and What They Mean (March 15, 2022)
- What Science Really Says About Facial Recognition Accuracy and Bias Concerns (July 23, 2021)
- Most State Legislatures Have Rejected Bans and Severe Restrictions on Facial Recognition (July 9, 2021)
- SIA Weighs In on Biometrics and Facial Recognition Legislation (Feb. 16, 2021)
- SIA Opposes Reintroduction of Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act (June 16, 2021)
- Extensive New Poll Finds Most Americans Support Facial Recognition (Oct. 7, 2020)
- SIA Says Portland, Ore., Facial Recognition Bans Are Shortsighted (Sept. 10, 2020)
- SIA Releases Policy Principles to Guide the Use of Facial Recognition Technology (Aug. 18, 2020)
- Facial Recognition Success Stories Showcase Positive Use Cases of the Technology (July 16, 2020)
- SIA Strongly Opposes the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act Citing Immeasurable Benefits of the Proven Technology (June 26, 2020)
- SIA Supports Commonsense Legislation Addressing Facial Recognition (May 22, 2020)
- SIA Testifies on Facial Recognition Before California State Assembly (March 13, 2020)
- What NIST Data Shows About Facial Recognition and Demographics (Feb. 14, 2020)
- SIA Testifies on Facial Recognition Before New Jersey Assembly (Feb. 12, 2020)
- At House Committee Hearing, SIA Shares How Effective and Responsible Use of Facial Recognition Makes the Nation Safer (Jan. 15, 2020)
- SIA Applauds NIST Study on Facial Recognition (Dec. 20, 2019)
- Emerging Uses of Facial Recognition Technology in the Private Sector: Highlights From Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Briefing (Dec. 9, 2019)
- Why SIA Opposes Massachusetts' Far-Reaching Facial Recognition Technology Prohibition Bill (Oct. 28, 2019)
- SIA and Other Organizations Urge Congress to Consider Facts and Benefits of Facial Recognition (Oct. 18, 2019)
- State Legislation to Curtail Facial Recognition Technology (Feb. 21, 2019)