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

Kelowna mayor outlines city’s economic, public health response amid COVID-19

The city announced a hold on hiring; 90 positions remain vacant and 64 have been laid off

New Kelowna business committed to growing B.C. beverage industry

Liquid Kudos connects BC beverage producers with new markets

Vernon, Kelowna denturists hit hard amid COVID-19

Okanagan denture clinics wonders if they’ll ever be able sustain the sting of pandemic

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission becomes a 56-bed shelter amid COVID-19 complications

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission outreach team will provide meals to those in need in the community

Kelowna production company keeps filming through COVID-19 pandemic

DCD Productions uses drones so crew can keep their physical distance

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Salmon Arm businesses close, adjust in response COVID-19 crisis

Groups united behind the scenes to support needs of community

Summerland care facility orders reusable masks

Okanagan Valley quilters ready to produce cloth masks if needed

Stop skiing on Mount Mackenzie: Revelstoke Mountain Resort

The resort said access to the mountain is strictly prohibited at this time

Dyer: Use your COVID-19 time to fight climate change

Kristy Dyer is a columnist for Black Press Media who writes about the environment

Apartments evacuated during police stand-off

The incident occurred at Grand Forks apartment building on March 28

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Most Read