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Canada’s privacy heads want Ottawa to address hazy facial recognition framework



Canada’s privacy heads want Ottawa to address hazy facial recognition framework

Canada’s privacy protection authorities want Ottawa to develop policies outlining acceptable circumstances for police to use facial recognition.

The heads note the technology can be helpful and provide public safety benefits, but it also involves sensitive biometric information and raises privacy concerns.

“The current regulatory framework for the use of facial recognition is insufficient to address the risks associated with the technology and must be clarified to protect rights,” Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said.

They outline their concerns in a joint statement. The privacy commissioners of Canada, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, B.C., PEI, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and New Foundland have signed on. The statement also includes the ombuds for New Brunswick and Manitoba.

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics is currently studying the impact of facial recognition technology. Therrien, along with his counterparts across the country, wants a new framework that outlines the “appropriate limits on police use of facial recognition.”

In a joint statement, the privacy heads said, “the existing legal framework for police use of facial recognition in Canada is insufficient to address the risks to privacy and other fundamental rights associated with the technology.”

They say the framework should include clear definitions of what circumstances allow facial recognition to be authorized and prohibited. The government should also have independent oversight and privacy protections to lower facial recognition risk for individuals.


Therrien recently spoke about the issue during a committee meeting alongside the commissioners of Ontario and Quebec. The RCMP, Toronto Police Service, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have also spoken to the committee.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Source: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada 

Source: MobileSyrup

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