Skip to Content

Are Americans changing their tune on facial recognition?

Are Americans changing their tune on facial recognition?

If you have been paying attention to the headlines and the many bans on facial recognition that have popped up over the past year, new survey results — showing that 68 percent of Americans believe facial recognition technology can make society safer — are certainly encouraging.

Leading independent polling firm Schoen Cooperman Research recently conducted a nationwide poll on Americans’ views of facial recognition technology. The survey of 1,000 adults found that most Americans support the use of facial recognition across a wide range of applications.

“Americans, regardless of their background, consistently favor the use of facial recognition to enhance both safety and convenience in their daily lives,” said pollster Douglas Schoen.

Commissioned by the Security Industry Association (SIA), the survey found that while a solid majority (59 percent) of Americans approve of facial recognition technology generally and 68 percent said it can make society safer, support rises significantly when it comes to specific public and private sector applications such as:

  • Airlines – 75% support
  • Security at Office Buildings – 70% support
  • TSA and Airport Security – 69% support
  • Banks – 68% support
  • School Security – 67% support
  • Law Enforcement – 66% support

Significantly, the poll found that 70 percent of U.S. adults believe facial recognition is accurate in identifying people of all races and ethnicities. The results showed that 66 percent of Americans believe law enforcement’s use of facial recognition is appropriate; 54 percent believe that the technology can limit human bias in investigations and nearly half (47 percent) believe it can even reduce racial injustice and discrimination in law enforcement. A solid majority (57 percent) of Americans said they were comfortable having their facial image included in a database of images used for facial recognition if it were used to promote public safety.

Around 7 in 10 U.S. adults believe facial recognition can improve security systems and are comfortable with its use to improve security at their workplace or buildings they visit, in addition to its use to screen adult visitors at schools.

“With such significant majority support from Americans for facial recognition demonstrated in the survey, it’s clear the technology is highly valued and recognized for the role it plays in making society safer and improving people’s lives,” said SIA CEO Don Erickson. “These results indicate that oft-repeated calls by some to ban or strictly limit this technology are clearly out of step with the everyday Americans that would be impacted. Their views must be considered in high-level discussions involving decision makers in our communities over how this technology can be used most effectively and responsibly.”

Schoen Cooperman Research conducted 1,000 online interviews with a demographically representative sample of U.S. adults nationwide from August 5 to August 7, 2020. The margin of error is ±3% at the 95% level of confidence.

Results of Schoen Cooperman Research public opinion poll on the topic of facial recognition are available for download here.


To comment on this post, please log in to your account or set up an account now.