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SIA sees trust in supporting role for avoiding biometric moratorium


biometric identification facial recognition

There is nothing wrong with U.S. biometric surveillance that cannot be solved with government funds for private-sector R&D, bias tests and Black and Hispanic university students, according to the Security Industry Association.

Down the SIA’s list of must-haves is a “combination of technological safeguards and policy measures to effectively mitigate any risks associated with the technology and ensure that it is developed and used responsibly.”

It is part of the association lobbying and PR campaign to quash a proposed federal biometric surveillance moratorium. At the same time, a coalition of 178 groups around the globe have called for their own bans.

The SIA, working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has informed the White House that its members oppose a proposed moratorium on the federal use of facial recognition and other biometric surveillance.

Similar legislation was pushed last year, but failed. It would require the federal government to get explicit statutory approval before using biometric surveillance. It also calls for withholding federal public safety grants to state and local governments that use the surveillance.

SIA leaders say the spotty and nascent biometric surveillance deployments to date have produced benefits, although no specifics are mentioned.

The technology has been used to identify insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol January 6. It has exonerated innocent people accused of crimes, helped with terrorism investigations and saved victims of human trafficking.

Of course, it has also falsely implicated people. And accuracy in uncontrolled settings varies so drastically, it can beg questions about whether there are or can be industry standards.

The opponents of surveillance in Europe will probably be stopped short of a total, global ban because their position is that the technology cannot be tamed. Efforts at enforcing ethics on the industry likely will not move them.

But an ethics-first privacy-centric tide in the United States could work. Again and again, trust is discussed as something the technology does not engender, but to be successful, it must.

In the Senate, moratorium sponsors include Senators Edward Markey, Bernie Sanders, Ron Wyden, Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Merkley. House members backing the proposal include Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.

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