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IBIA lauds White House order for study on facial recognition in law enforcement

Organization seeks inclusion in process
IBIA lauds White House order for study on facial recognition in law enforcement

An Executive Order from the White House directing American government resources towards improving public trust in policing has been welcomed by the International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) as a way to advance policy around law enforcement use of facial recognition.

One of the EO’s 23 sections directs the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study the use and state of the art of facial recognition and other biometric technologies to identify “privacy, civil rights, civil liberties, accuracy, or disparate impact concerns with their use.”

An interagency process will also be carried out with the Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security and Director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy as co-chairs, to produce a report on best practices for facial recognition and biometrics, police changes and guidelines for law enforcement agencies.

The IBIA is urging inclusion of industry voices in that process.

IBIA Board of Directors Chairman John Mears, who is also a senior fellow at Leidos, notes that biometric technologies have advanced beyond what was imagined possible five years ago in terms of accuracy and speed, and that facial recognition is more reliable and accurate than even specialized officers.

“However, as is sometimes the case, the pace of technology advances faster than the proliferation of associated policies, best practices, and training to use the technology,” Mears states.

“The setting of appropriate guidelines, training, and enforcement of processes surrounding the use of face recognition and other biometric technologies is critical to ensuring public trust and safety while respecting the rights of all people,” Mears said. “IBIA has been a leader in this regard since its inception in 1998, publishing analyses, best practices, a Code of Ethical Conduct, and guidelines for the responsible use of a wide array of biometric technologies. In the spirit of inclusivity, we call on the President to ensure that our wealth of experience and expertise, as well as our industry Members’ inputs, are included throughout the entire study and interagency process.”

IBIA Managing Director Robert Tappan told Biometric Update in an email that the organization does not have an existing relationship with NAS, but hopes to work with it and its National Research Council (NRC) arm throughout the process.

“After thoughtful consideration of the language contained in the face recognition section of the Order, IBIA felt that it was necessary to emphasize that our industry — including our IBIA Members and other key players from the private sector, need to be a part of this conversation and have a seat at the table as these issues are being assessed by the current Administration,” Tappan explains. “Our industry and our Association’s vast collective experience, credibility and expertise — not to mention our best practices and guidelines for ethical behavior and operations, need to be represented and heard during this discussion.”

The IBIA has previously engaged with the federal government on biometrics use by public bodies, as in a response to the White House OSTP Request for Information earlier this year.

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