KAWARTHA LAKES-The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) says it has joined the “Right 2 Your Face” Coalition, a group of experts from civil society, academia, and industry who are expressing major concerns with the federal government’s response to the recent publication of the Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI) report, “Facial Recognition Technology and the Growing Power of Artificial Intelligence.”
Today, a joint letter of concern was sent to the government and calls for immediate action to address the “severity of the challenges” caused by facial recognition technology (FRT) and artificial intelligence (AI). The letter was published on right2yourface.ca, where the public awareness campaign is being spearheaded by the CCLA and other coalition members. A full launch of the campaign is expected in the coming months.
“The Government of Canada’s response to the ETHI Committee’s report shows that Parliament isn’t doing enough to take FRT and AI regulation seriously. This coalition of experts from across Canada have joined their voices to tell the Canadian government and people in Canada that there is an urgent priority to enact fit-for-purpose legislation that curbs the risks FRT poses for privacy and human rights,” said Daniel Konikoff, Interim Director of the Privacy, Technology and Surveillance Program at the CCLA, and Brenda McPhail.
The CCLA and the coalition believe that the government failed to address many of the key recommendations made by the ETHI Committee. It says the government relied upon their promised legislative changes to Canada’s federal private sector privacy laws in Bill C-27 which they claim, in its current form fails to address the concerns and is out-of-date and unable to address the risks and challenges of the technology.
“Facial recognition technology, combined with increasingly sophisticated AI systems, pose a unique threat to freedom and human rights. This open letter not only proposes a moratorium on facial recognition technology–joining many other international jurisdictions including in the U.S. and Europe–but also sets out a clear framework for more robust regulation of AI and federal leadership. This is critical for the long term health of Canadian democracy,” highlighted Jon Penney, legal scholar and social scientist based at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.
“Action on facial recognition technology is long overdue,” said Christelle Tessono, a tech policy researcher and Right2YourFace steering committee member. “There’s a growing number of reports of unlawful uses of this tool in Canada. To prevent harms — especially its disproportionate risks to marginalized groups — the government must act now and regulate.”
“Private and public organizations have abundant incentives to develop and implement AI-driven facial recognition technologies that run roughshod over privacy rights,” said Mike Larsen, President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. “There is an urgent need for governments to adopt robust, progressive, and comprehensive regulations now, before these technologies become normalized and entrenched.”
In its letter, the coalition highlighted key recommendations for government action purposed by the ETHI Committee.
The coalition hopes that the government will reconsider the recommendations made by the ETHI Committee as it seeks to amend and develop new legislation. Additionally, as regulations to address the issues posed by FRT move through the legislative process, the CCLA and its partners would like to work with the government to craft regulatory framework.
The open letter and recommendations can be found here.