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The Security Industry Association (SIA), the trade association representing security solutions providers, announced its strong opposition to the introduced bicameral Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act.

The bill would impose a blanket ban on most federal use of nearly all biometric and related image analytics technologies, incorrectly labeling all such technologies as surveillance regardless of application, while forcing essentially all state and local governments to do the same.

Long-stayed technology

The legislation looks to impend the safety of Americans by eliminating certain tools that have been in use for a decade or more to solve thousands of crimes, prevent fraud, allow access to critical infrastructure and, overall, keep Americans safe, while negating the research put into improving and developing safe, reliable and unbiased technology.

Speaking about the use of facial recognition by the public sector, Don Erickson, CEO of SIA, said “When used effectively and responsibly, facial recognition technology keeps people safe and brings value to our everyday lives. While SIA welcomes a constructive dialog over the use of facial recognition technology, the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act is regrettably not a workable solution to address reasonable concerns about the use of facial recognition. Alternatively, SIA would enthusiastically support legislation that ensures appropriate transparency, procedures and oversight.”

The technology behind facial recognition is highly accurate and has vastly improved in the past few years. Government must use high-performing facial recognition technology for a given application, validated using sound, scientific methods, such as through the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Facial Recognition Vendor Test program across demographic groups.

Facial recognition in decision-making

SIA encourages facial recognition to be used transparently, accurately, securely and always with a human in the loop when used in identification process that result in consequential decisions. As a matter of principle, its use in law enforcement must be as a secondary tool in investigations to assist personnel, who ultimately use other means to make an identification.

Facial recognition increases the effectiveness and accuracy of this work and can actually limit the effects of inherent human bias in such applications.

Value of facial recognition technology

  • Kansas Department of Revenue’s use of facial recognition software
    Led to the investigation of forced labor trafficking case in the region, all through identifying cases of driver’s license fraud in their facial recognition database.
  • In New York City, facial recognition technology
    Was used by the New York City Police Department to identify a man who had left suspected bombs in rice cookers in and around an underpass station.

Airports safety and criminal information

  • Facial recognition technology is deployed in dozens of airports across the United States
    And continues to grow. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and airport officials match passport photos to a database to verify the identity of thousands of travelers entering and leaving the U.S. each week. The technology is proving to be an important tool for border security. As of June 2020, nearly 300 individuals have been intercepted attempting to enter the U.S. under a fraudulent identity.
  • Since 2015, the non-profit group Thorn has used facial recognition
    As part of a tool used to help rescue 15,000 children and identify 17,000 human traffickers. For example, after seeing an online post about a missing child from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a law enforcement officer used Spotlight to return a list of sex ads featuring the girl. According to a WIRED story, the girl had been “sold for weeks,” and the officer’s actions initiated a process that “recovered and removed [her] from trauma.”
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