SIA-Commissioned Poll Finds Most Americans Support Facial Recognition

Conducted by Schoen Cooperman Research, the newly released poll found that 68% of Americans say facial recognition technology can make society safer.

SILVER SPRING, Md. – An independent polling firm recently conducted a nationwide poll on Americans’ views of facial recognition technology. Conducted by Schoen Cooperman Research, 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,” says pollster Douglas Schoen.

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

  • Airlines – 75%
  • Security at office buildings – 70%
  • TSA and airport security – 69%
  • Banks – 68%
  • School security – 67%
  • Law enforcement – 66%

The poll found that 70% of U.S. adults believe facial recognition is accurate in identifying people of all races and ethnicities. However, Federal researchers found widespread evidence of racial bias in nearly 200 facial recognition algorithms in an extensive study released the end of last year by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The NIST study determined that racial minorities were far more likely than whites to be misidentified in the U.S. government’s testing, raising concerns about the software’s impartiality.

Among other results from the SIA-commissioned study, 66% of Americans believe law enforcement’s use of facial recognition is appropriate; 54% believe that the technology can limit human bias in investigations and nearly half (47%) believe it can even reduce racial injustice and discrimination in law enforcement. A majority (57%) 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,” says SIA CEO Don Erickson.

Erickson continues, “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 decisionmakers 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 Aug. 5 to Aug. 7. The margin of error is ±3% at the 95% level of confidence.

To download full results of the survey, go here.

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