Federal MPs call for strict regulation of facial recognition

In a report tabled Tuesday, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics also urges the government to develop a regulatory framework regarding the uses, prohibitions, surveillance and privacy protection about this emerging tool.

Facial recognition technology compares an image of a face to a database of millions of photos in order to identify a person.

MPs on the committee say appropriate privacy safeguards should address issues such as the accuracy, retention and transparency of facial recognition initiatives. They also recommend a comprehensive strategy on the informed consent of Canadians regarding the use of their personal information.

MEPs also want the government to amend the Privacy Act to prohibit the private sector from capturing images of Canadians on the Internet or in public places to feed databases used by technology facial recognition or artificial intelligence algorithms.

Several people who appeared before the committee acknowledged that facial recognition can sometimes be useful, for example to authorize a payment or to keep medical information confidential in a cell phone.

However, these people warned that this technology comes with a few drawbacks. In particular, it can lead to a greater number of misidentifications for black and Asian people, it can also be used for illegal surveillance and the laws governing it are not up to date. Committee members were also warned that there is a lack of transparency from police and intelligence agencies.

Without proper oversight, facial recognition technology and other artificial intelligence tools could cause irreparable harm to some people. »

A quote from Extract from the report

These new technologies must therefore be used wisely and be governed by strict laws, according to the elected members of the committee.

Since this legislative framework does not currently exist, a national pause should be imposed on the use of [technologie de reconnaissance faciale]especially with regard to police serviceswrite the deputies in their report.

The committee strongly encourages the government to implement its recommendations as quickly as possible.

An expected report

The National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Tim McSorley, welcomed the tabling of this report. He added that many stakeholders interested in the issue of privacy related to new technologies have been calling for concrete action from the federal government for the past two years.

We hope that this new report will finally lead to the reform of the laws necessary to regulate the use of facial recognition and, more generally, of all artificial intelligence.noted Mr. McSorley, who appeared before the committee last March.

In May 2022, Canada’s privacy commissioners said they believe it should be illegal for police to use facial recognition technology to monitor people participating in peaceful protests.

In a joint statement, federal, provincial and territorial privacy agencies also called for a ban on any use by police of this technology that could lead to mass surveillance.

Privacy commissioners in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec have also ordered facial recognition company Clearview AI to stop collecting, using and disclosing images of people without their consent.

An investigation by the three provincial watchdogs and their federal counterpart found in February that Clearview AI technology led to mass surveillance of Canadians and violated federal and provincial laws that govern personal information.

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Federal MPs call for strict regulation of facial recognition


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