Panel Peruses Privacy vs Public Safety at Securing New Ground

The Security Industry Association did a great job again this year of attracting idea-rich speakers from top companies and a very engaged audience of consultants, entrepreneurs, partners, and other security providers. The Grand Hyatt NYC hosted the diverse but focused group over two days at the end of October.

SIA Chair Scott Schafer revealed the 2020 MegaTrends where Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition came in #2 and #3. With Cybersecurity at the top of the list, many agreed with the first speaker, SAP’s Steve Hunt, PhD, who works in the crossroads of Cyber and HR. He stated: “People are the greatest asset – AND the greatest liability.”

This is clear with 77% of data breeches being caused by internal staff. He said: “Good security is 20% equipment and 80% culture”. The factors that influence uptake of security behavior have to make people feel they belong. Companies must make it easy and train them to think and act in safe ways.

The ‘View from the Top’ panel was led by Fredrik Nilsson, VP at Axis Communications. The balancing act between the major issues of the day underline how inter-related they are, but each has its specific challenges that need dedicated focus: AI and Machine Learning as we move into the IoT age is affected by cybersecurity and requires data protection. How do we see Facial Recognition benefits weighing in for public surveillance vs personal privacy? He said, “It’s about consent”.

Milestone VP Tim Palmquist said: “We need to prioritize humans and find the right balance, create the boundaries that support responsible use. The Copenhagen Letter’s signatures by individuals highlights personal commitment to ensure the behaviors permeate a company’s culture.”

Kim Loy, CPO at ACRE, added that it’s safety vs privacy, how to be productive vs intrusive. The pendulum swings between public acceptance of surveillance for safety vs concerns about private impingement.

New technology like AI is definitely able to improve productivity. It can do things humans cannot like firefighting and other scenarios that are dangerous to humans. Nilsson said: “200 years ago 90% of the population were farmers. Today it’s only 1%!”

Alex Housten, VP at Carrier Corp, remarked, “People like privacy but need safety and security. Security issues are themselves an attack on privacy that we need protection from.”

Palmquist noted, “In our personal lives we are getting to make decisions about whether we consent to our data being used, but in business use we as tech companies have the responsibility to educate and to create guard rails to keep us on the right road.”

Eric Fullerton, Executive Director at OpenEye asked “Who is to make the decisions on regulations when it comes to ethics? The population is so polarized these days. How can there be agreement?”

Kim Loy heads up the SIA Ethics Committee who are drafting guidelines in this area, from which there will be education to help people lead by example.

It was generally agreed that millennials are a challenge with their rampant use of social media – they are less concerned with privacy but very focused on ethical issues such as who are the customers using the technology and how are they using it, whom do we engage with – or choose not to for ethical reasons?

Housten related this back to Steve Hunt’s comments by saying that the 80% importance on culture will stem from a company’s values. They are what determines a culture, and that has to be our goal as an industry.

Palmquist summarized: “There’s lots of disruptive tech that’s changing our reality. Automation like AI requires regulation. Fortunately, we are still in the early stages which means we have time to address how to manage it – proactively, together.”

The Security Industry Association is celebrating 50 years of commitment to safety and security this year.