Members of the House of Commons committee on information, privacy and ethics voted this week to examine the technology’s effects on civil society, privacy rights, minorities and vulnerable populations. NDP Critic for Indigenous Youth Charlie Angus makes his way to the podium for a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

The controversial use of facial-recognition tools will soon be scrutinized by MPs.

Members of the House of Commons committee on access to information, privacy and ethics voted this week to examine the technology’s effects on civil society, privacy rights, minorities and vulnerable populations.

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus, who put forward the idea, suggested the committee study use of the emerging tools by governments, police, companies and individuals.

Advanced digital applications now allow computers to quickly sift millions of stored images and match them against photos of a person taken at places such as an airport, demonstration or sporting event.

In an unusual statement Thursday, the RCMP said it has been experimenting with facial-recognition technology supplied by U.S. firm Clearview AI in investigations of online child sexual exploitation.

“Only trained victim identification specialists … use the software primarily to help identify, locate and rescue children who have been or are victims of online sexual abuse,” the statement said. According to the RCMP, Clearview AI’s techology has been used in 15 cases and has led the Mounties to two children who were being victimized.

ALSO READ: Surveillance is in at CES Gadget Show – in a big way

The force has also tried the technology out “to determine its utility to enhance criminal investigations,” the statement said.

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children, seniors and various racial communities.

They will also investigate how the tools can be used for criminal harassment or other illegal surveillance purposes, as well as any links between Canadian police and technology firms that market such applications.

Angus told the committee the first step will be getting a better understanding of “the growing power of artificial intelligence” and how it can lead to biased results that infringe on people’s rights.

His push for the review drew support from Liberal MP Michael Levitt, who called it a “most important study in an area that is moving so, so rapidly.”

“I think this issue is a defining issue of our time.”

The federal privacy watchdog and three of his provincial counterparts announced last week they will look into the use of Clearview AI’s technology.

Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said he will be joined in the probe by ombudsmen from British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.

Media reports have raised questions and concerns about whether the company is collecting and using personal information without consent.

Privacy regulators in every province and territory have agreed to develop guidance for organizations — including law enforcement — on the use of biometric technology such as facial recognition.

The RCMP’s statement said the federal police will work with Therrien to devise guidelines and policies on how to use the technology properly.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

APRIL 2: Six new COVID-19 deaths: provincial health officer

Thousands of ‘PPE’ donated in Surrey, where one care home is ‘preparing for the worst’

SafeCare BC’s Operation Protect drive involves drop-off dates in Guildford

Psychologist’s advice on parenting in the pandemic

SFU psychology prof Dr. Tanya Broesch, with expertise in child development, discusses short and long-term impacts COVID-19 pandemic is having on children and parents alike

‘Shocking decision’: Surrey soccer club won’t offer refunds to 350 teams for cancelled tourney

Registration fees would top $171K for Surrey Mayor’s Cup, called off due to COVID-19

Bayside rugby director makes pitch for season shift

Andy Blackburn suggests COVID-19 cancellation could be impetus for BC Rugby change

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Abbotsford man who tries to start gas-station fight gets sprayed with gasoline

Suspect returns with knife and throws it at victim, but is quickly arrested by police

Abbotsford family of 5 who was stuck in Vietnam is now back home

Janzen family sends ‘huge and heartfelt’ thank you to everyone who helped

Most Read

l -->