SIA warns Congress against facial recognition moratorium as Huawei warns industry to listen to concerns

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U.S. Congress should not place a moratorium on facial recognition technology, but instead collaborate with all stakeholders to address concerns about its use and put a consistent set of rules in place for the country, according to a letter from the Security Industry Association (SIA) and a coalition of organizations and trade associations.

The letter was sent on October 16 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and co-signed by Airports Council International – North America, the American Association of Airport Executives, the Consumer Technology Association, the Identification Technology Association, the International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others. In the letter, the use of facial recognition in various industries, the potential consequences of a moratorium, and recent developments in support of ethical and responsible use of the technology are outlined.

“Recent calls for bans on facial recognition technology are based on a misleading picture of how the technology works and is used today,” said Don Erickson, CEO of SIA. “Facial recognition technology has benefited Americans in many ways, such as helping to fight human trafficking, thwart identity thieves and improve passenger facilitation at airports and enhance aviation security. As a representative of companies that provide and leverage facial recognition, SIA believes this advanced technology should be used in a safe, accurate and effective way, and we look forward to working with Congress to help the U.S. set the example on how to ethically and responsibly govern this technology.”

The SIA also produced a report to address some common misconceptions about how facial recognition works and how it is used.

Huawei EU head urges industry to listen to concerns

Industry must listen to the concerns of people in Europe who are concerned about the possible impact of widespread facial recognition on privacy, Huawei Vice President for the European Region Abraham Liu told Euractiv.

Liu spoke after a recent appearance at the European Parliament in Brussels, following criticism of the installation by Huawei of a network of security cameras with facial recognition in the Serbian capital Belgrade.

“The system can be used to trail political opponents, monitor regime critics at any moment, which is completely against the law,” according to former Serbian commissioner for personal data protection Rodoljub Šabić. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić recently said police are able to count each person at anti-government protests.

The European Commission is expected to establish new rules around facial recognition data as part of a pledge made by Commission President Ursula van der Leyen to stand up a framework for Artificial Intelligence and Ethics within her first 100 days in office.

Liu notes that there are significant differences in attitudes towards facial recognition between countries within the EU. Even within France, the proposed ‘Alicem’ facial recognition-secured digital ID program has been declared by regulator CNIL as in breach of EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Huawei, along with fellow Chinese technology provider ZTE, was recently held out of a bid for a hardware supply contract for CCTV and security services with the Vaclav Havel Airport in the Czech Republic. The company is rumored to have had recent talks with the Munich airport, however.

“We will always maintain very high ethical standards,” Liu said. “Internationally, we respect all treaties and will always take into account the needs and requirements of our customers all over the world.”

“In terms of facial recognition technologies, people all over the world have different mindsets, and it’s our responsibility to be sensitive to them.”

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