MPs call for tight federal restriction on use of facial recognition technology

OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee is calling for a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by federal police and Canadian businesses unless there is court authorization or input from the privacy watchdog.

In a report tabled today, the committee on access to information, privacy and ethics also urges the government to develop a regulatory framework concerning uses, prohibitions, oversight and privacy of the emerging tool.

Facial recognition technology can allow an image of a person's face to be matched against a database of photos with the aim of identifying the individual.

The MPs say appropriate privacy protections should address issues including accuracy, retention of data and transparency in facial recognition initiatives, as well as a comprehensive strategy around informed consent by Canadians for the use of their private information.

They also want the government to amend the private-sector privacy law to prohibit capturing images of Canadians from the internet or public spaces for the purpose of populating facial recognition technology databases or artificial intelligence algorithms.

The report warns that without an appropriate framework, facial recognition technology and other artificial intelligence tools could cause irreparable harm to some individuals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022.

The Canadian Press