Earlier this month, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada released a scathing report on the RCMP’s use of facial recognition technology, particularly its work with Clearview AI. The report was particularly damaging as the Commissioner found that the RCMP wasn’t truthful when it said it didn’t work with Clearview AI and then gave inaccurate information on the number of uses when it was revealed that it did. In fact, even after these findings, the RCMP still rejected the Privacy Commissioner’s findings that it violated the Privacy Act.
Lex Gill is a Montreal-based lawyer where she is an affiliate at the Citizen Lab and teaches at McGill University’s Faculty of Law. She has also worked at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. She joins the podcast to discuss the Commissioner’s findings and to explain why this is best viewed as part of a long cycle of surveillance that has often targeted social movements or vulnerable populations.
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Facial recognition technologies have attracted mounting attention in recent weeks led by a New York Times report on Clearview AI, soon followed by revelations of police use of the service in multiple Canadian cities. In fact, just after recording the interview for this podcast, there were revelations that the Clearview AI service has been used in Canada by an even wider array of police forces, retailers, insurance investigators, and others than previously imagined. In some instances, those organizations had denied using the service. There are now several privacy commissioner investigations into the situation.
To examine the concerns associated with facial recognition technologies and what we should do about it, I’m joined on the podcast this week by Nasma Ahmed, a technologist and community organizer that works within the intersections of social justice, technology and policy. She recently published an op-ed in the Globe and Mail with McGill’s Taylor Owen calling for a pause on the technology. Nasma is currently Director of the Digital Justice Lab, which is based in Toronto.
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