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Commissioner shares views on Facial Recognition Technology with Parliament

May 10, 2021

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien appeared today before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics to discuss facial recognition technology.

In his remarks, the Commissioner noted that facial recognition technology has emerged as a powerful tool. He noted that, if used responsibly and in the right circumstances, it can offer significant benefits to society, but the technology also has the potential to be extremely privacy invasive. It can enable widespread surveillance, provide biased results, and erode privacy, freedom and other human rights.

Commissioner Therrien also explained that to effectively regulate facial recognition technologies, Canada needs stronger protections in its privacy laws including: a rights-based approach to privacy; meaningful accountability measures; and stronger enforcement powers and oversight mechanisms.

In particular, he noted how the OPC’s recent Clearview AI investigation highlights the need for improvements to the penalty scheme under the government’s private sector legislative reform bill.  Clearview AI collected, used and disclosed personal information without consent and for an inappropriate purpose, but the proposed new administrative penalty regime created under Bill C-11 would not apply to these and other important violations of the legislation.

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