Industry leaders call for federal legislation on facial recognition
Industry leaders call for federal legislation on facial recognition

Sep 1, 2001 12:00 PM

Dr. Joseph J. Atick, chairman and CEO of Visionics Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., supported by The Security Industry Association (SIA), has called for federal legislation in the United States to help transform existing industry guidelines concerning the use of facial recognition technology and CCTV into public policy.

"So far, [Visionics' and SIA's CCTV and facial recognition system guidelines] have been effective," Atick said. "But without systematic oversight and enforcement, they may not be enough in the long run.

"In the months to come," he continued, "[Visionics] will work closely with federal legislators, privacy interest and industry groups to share its knowledge, experience and privacy protection principles pertaining to the use of facial recognition for public safety and other applications."

Heightened national coverage and debates prompted The Security Industry Association to hold a press conference in Washington D.C., to discuss the benefits of proper and responsible use of surveillance and biometric technologies.

SIA executive director Richard Chace stressed that the majority of the issues raised concerning the use of facial recognition and CCTV systems are not new. He said state and federal governments, police departments and university campuses have used CCTV for more than 30 years.

Chace also supported Atick's call for federal legislation.

"Over the past several months there have been numerous news stories on how municipalities and government organizations have employed camera technology to address issues such as red-light running, speeding, aggressive driving, terrorism prevention, missing children location and arrest warrant violations," Chace said. "Often, these stories focus on privacy issues and governmental abuse. It is time to change the debate from one of technology to one of policy."

Recent applications of facial recognition technology have brought on much of the debate.

At the 2001 NFL Super Bowl, for example, police in Tampa, Fla., used a facial recognition system to photograph and scan attendees with a facial recognition system. Those scans were compared to images of known criminals. Tampa police have since added FaceIt to 36 CCTV cameras in the entertainment district of Ybor City, but the City Council almost decided to discontinue its use in a 4-3 vote in late July.

Atick emphasized that FaceIt does not identify anyone but the criminals in the database and does not store any images of non-criminals.

"CCTV and facial recognition technology could prove to have definite applications," said Thomas Seamon, chairman of The International Association of Chiefs of Police Private Sector Liaison Committee. "As with all technology used by the police, it is important that sound policies and procedures govern its use."

For an overview of the SIA's CCTV Guidelines, visit the link below.

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