Issue: Facial Recognition

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.

SIA Position:

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 the use of this critical technology.

SIA Position Statements:

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.

Facial Recognition Resources

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.