Over 75 civil society organizations and experts call for immediate ban on police use of facial recognition technology
Joint statement calls on the federal government to act and protect the privacy of Canadians
July 8, 2020 — Today, OpenMedia, along with more than 30 other organizations, and dozens of experts, issued a joint statement calling for an immediate ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance by all federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Canada.
In the wake of Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM placing one-year self-moratoriums on the use of their facial recognition technologies by law enforcement, the federal government of Canada must take action and impose an immediate ban on the use of these dangerous tools by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. As recently as just last week, the RCMP was found to still be using facial recognition technology developed by another company, the highly controversial Clearview AI, which is currently subject of an ongoing investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and three of its provincial counterparts.
“There is a complete policy vacuum in Canada when it comes to biometric surveillance. Because the federal government has failed to update our outdated privacy laws to fill this void, we’re calling for an immediate ban on the police use of facial recognition technologies,” said Laura Tribe, Executive Director of OpenMedia. “These technologies have been shown to be discriminatory and biased, with incredibly harmful consequences. Even the companies that make these tools are recognizing their potential danger – why can’t the government? It’s time to put a stop to this now, before it gets any further out of control.”
Studies have shown how racial biases are built into facial recognition technology. The leading technology mis-identifies Black, Asian and Indigenous faces 10 to 100 times more than white faces. At a time when society is pushing to address systemic racism in policing, our federal government should immediately stop law enforcement from using extrajudicial tools that facilitate widespread discrimination.
Beyond their inaccuracy and bias, facial recognition technologies are incredibly invasive, and rely on deep databases of personal facial biometric information, often collected without consent or knowledge of those participating. When put in the hands of law enforcement, this can have dramatic, unintended consequences – even costing people their lives.
Nearly 20,000 people have spoken out against dangerous facial recognition technologies being used in Canada. Supporters are currently calling on Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair to enact a ban of facial recognition technologies, at: https://openmedia.org/BanPoliceFR
OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.
Executive Director, OpenMedia
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