Alberta Mirror

Monday, January 17, 2022

The use of contentious surveillance technology indicates the need to restrict police power

Alberta

Key takeaways: 

  • This news is extremely problematic, and not just for the privacy senses.
  • Numerous police services in Canada have accepted using controversial facial recognition technology from Clearview AI.
  • This news should cause us even more skeptical of growing police power, writes Kate Schneider. 

Surveillance tech use demonstrates the requirement to restrict police power: 

The previous month, CBC released a report revealing further details regarding the Toronto Police Service’s use of Clearview AI’s controversial surveillance technology. The results confirmed that Toronto police had hired facial recognition software to determine both suspects and victims in some dozen police probes.

These results built on news from February 2020 that originally told several officers had used a trial version of the software, despite their rejection of its usage a month earlier. 

This news in itself is extremely problematic, and not just for the privacy importance. It shows a concerning degree of power maintained by police forces and how specific technologies can help the abuse of that power.

Read more: Highly transmissible variant a problem for Canadian food production, farm groups state

The use of controversial surveillance tech indicates the need to restrict police power

Worries about Clearview AI

The Toronto Police Service is not the best law enforcement agency in Canada to have come under fire for its association with Clearview AI. 

These disclosures were declared in the wake of Canada’s Privacy Commissioner order in June that the RCMP’s use of Clearview AI to scour online images of Canadians without their approval broke the federal Privacy Act. Police departments in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Ottawa have also admitted using — or “testing” — this software in the past.

Clearview AI is founded in the United States, yet is renowned globally for its facial recognition software. Numerous police departments around the world have accepted to utilise this technology, including departments in the United States, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom. 

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