Canadian Civil Rights Group Requires Momentary Facial Recognition Ban

A Canadian civil rights organization is calling for a temporary ban on facial recognition in the country. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) believes that a suspension will give lawmakers time to catch up on the latest technological advances, arguing that the moratorium should last until some meaningful privacy protection is in place.

“We’re seeing an explosion in facial recognition technology, but we’re not seeing a corresponding surge in oversight,” said CCLA Director Brenda McPhail. “There have been clear abuses of this technology in Canada, and as it evolves – and more private sector and government organizations use it, Canadians need to understand the privacy risks and the dangers of the technology.”

The CCLA addressed some of these abuses, the most notable of which concerns the ongoing AI scandal in Clearview. Toronto Police have acknowledged that several officers used the controversial facial recognition system without informing their superiors, while the RCMP stated that it would continue to use the system despite the public reaction. Clearview has since suspended all of its contracts in Canada in response to a number of federal and state privacy investigations.

Some of the other examples of the CCLA come from the private sector. For example, Canadian data protection officers recently censored Cadillac Fairview for installing facial recognition cameras in 12 shopping malls across the country and using those cameras to collect biometric data from more than 5 million Canadians. The commercial real estate company did not take reasonable steps to inform and seek consent from buyers prior to deploying the technology.

In this sense, the proposed moratorium would cover both the public and private sectors. The CCLA noted that Canada’s current privacy laws are relatively underdeveloped as they do not specifically address the use of facial recognition. The organization suggested that local and state-level bans enacted in the US could serve as a blueprint for future facial recognition laws in the country.

Source: IT World Canada

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January 2021 – by Eric Weiss

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