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Turning the tide on facial recognition bans?

Turning the tide on facial recognition bans?

If you are just reading the headlines, or watching the latest “breaking news” reports – is there ever not breaking news? – you’d think the latest round of bans of facial recognition technology (Maryland and even my beloved Maine are the latest two!) is creating momentum in that direction, but, fortunately, that is not the case!

In fact, with the help of advocacy groups within our very own security industry, including the Security Industry Association (SIA), we are starting to "turn the tide" and get many states to reject such bans.

As SIA’s Senior Director of Government Relations Jake Parker points out in his most recent piece on the topic, most state legislatures have rejected bans and severe restrictions on facial recognition.

“With most 2021 legislative sessions concluded or winding down for the year, proposals to ban or heavily restrict the technology have had very limited overall success despite recent headlines,” Parker explained. “It turns out that such bills failed to advance or were rejected by legislatures in no fewer than 17 states during the 2020 and 2021 sessions: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington.”

Parker points out that nearly all the measures would have banned or severely limited use of facial recognition by state and local government entities, without restricting private-sector use. “Legislators and witnesses cited concerns about a range of consequences to public safety and various beneficial applications resulting from broad bans and restrictions, versus more targeted policies that could address concerns about the technology without unnecessarily limiting its benefits,” he said.

SSN Readers Support the Technology

In Security Systems News’ latest News Poll, readers sounded off on the topic as well, with 85 percent saying that they see widespread adoption of the technology over time, and only 15 percent feeling adoption on a large scale will not happen.

Also encouraging, 70 percent of readers see great potential for the technology within security, with another 22 saying they see “some” potential, and only 8 percent feeling there is no potential.

In regard to widespread bans in some states, one reader noted, “Look at who the governing body is made up of, and then it's easy to figure out why this is taking place in Maryland. It's just political. A ‘feelgood’ law.”

Another reader added, “Government should stay out of all security concerns!”

While sentiment is strong for limited regulation, not all SSN readers agree. “STOP facial recognition technology (privacy is very important),” said one respondent.

Whatever your current political affiliation is, it is in everyone’s best interest to do your homework on important topics like this, educate yourself, and then make a decision based on facts, not the latest “breaking news” headlines.

Reading coverage on the topic by SSN Managing Editor Cory Harris is a good place to start.


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