The federal privacy watchdog says the RCMP broke the law by using cutting-edge facial-recognition software to collect personal information.
In a report today, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien says there were serious and systemic failings by the RCMP to ensure compliance with the Privacy Act before it gathered information from U.S. firm Clearview AI.
“The use of [facial recognition technology] by the RCMP to search through massive repositories of Canadians who are innocent of any suspicion of crime presents a serious violation of privacy,” Therrien said in his report.
“A government institution cannot collect personal information from a third party agent if that third party agent collected the information unlawfully.”
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Clearview AI’s technology allows for the collection of huge numbers of images from various sources that can help police forces, financial institutions and other clients identify people.
READ MORE: Clearview AI facial recognition tool broke Canadian privacy laws, watchdogs say
In a related probe, Therrien and three provincial counterparts said in February that Clearview AI’s technology resulted in mass surveillance of Canadians and violated federal and provincial laws governing personal information.
They said the New York-based company’s scraping of billions of images of people from across the internet was a clear violation of Canadians’ privacy rights.
Therrien announced last year that Clearview AI would stop offering its facial-recognition services in Canada in response to the privacy investigation.
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