There’s a good editorial in Macleans (summarized below) about facial recognition. The author compares what has been going on in the United States and assumes that it is different in Canada. I’m not so sure about the assumption and the article made me think that if facial recognition is being used in the U.S. in, well, creepy ways, then I have to think it’s being used in Canada, too. And, if I’m wrong and it’s not currently being used, I’m sure it will come along shortly enough.
The editorial is mostly about how governments, and, in particular, law enforcement agencies are using facial recognition by tapping into the multitude of databases that contain our pictures. All of this reminded me of a new experience of mine that occurred when I returned to Canada from vacation last week. The human customs officers have been replaced by kiosks that ask you all the same questions and then actually get you to stand in front of a camera so that the machine can take your picture. The kiosk is a robot CBSA agent! There’s no indication as to why your picture must be taken when coming home to Canada and the entire experience was off-putting (but maybe that was partly because it was 3:00 in the morning).
In the editorial, the author says that the OPC hasn’t received PIAs about facial recognition being used by government. WHAT? How did these kiosk-robots get deployed if no one prepared a PIA? I sure hope the information in the piece is incorrect and that someone at CBSA was attuned to how privacy issues arise with their technology. And, more importantly, I personally felt very awkward having to give up a biometric to come back into my own country (a country that is supposed to consider privacy an inherent right).
And, as a side note, I must admit that maybe I’m just a tad concerned because the camera taking my picture couldn’t actually capture my image. I know I’m unique looking with the lack of hair and all, but it was really weird to see the technology try, fail, and ultimately flag me because it wasn’t smart enough to work properly.
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