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Canada Dashboard Digest | Notes from the IAPP Canada Managing Director, Nov. 15, 2019 Related reading: Breaking down the political support behind proposed US privacy laws

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Most smartphones today use biometrics to unlock the device. As consumers, we appreciate the convenience because keying in a password or swiping a pattern simply takes too much time in this fast-paced world (what’s wrong with us?). But we also trust that the manufacturer of the device is not surreptitiously using the biometric for any other purpose other than to unlock the phone. If it were ever discovered that this trust was breached, I suspect the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada would have something to say about it as being an unreasonable collection and use of personal information. That would result in a slap of the wrist in Canada, but elsewhere, the authorities would have more dire enforcement options.

So, it is with this backdrop that consumers have become accustomed to sharing a biometric — at least for this limited purpose. But, as we move further and further down the road with advancing biometric technology, the uses of this authentication technique are going to proliferate.

Case in point is the story this week that a grocer is contemplating the use of facial recognition of its customers for the purpose of payments. No need for cashiers, no more lineups. Will this catch on? In one article by the National Post, the writers raise the additional question of whether this technology will somehow result in the use of the biometric by the Chinese authorities because the technology was developed there and the grocer contemplating the use of it has strong ties with Chinese officials.

That surely is a consideration that needs to be fleshed out but assuming that they can provide you with an assurance that the facial scan is only going to be used for the purpose of payment, would you be willing to shop there? Is it really any different than providing Samsung or Huawei with your fingerprint to unlock your phone?

How many of these time-saving conveniences are worth it? (To be fair, this is written by the guy who would be OK with a fob implanted in my palm to enter my building more easily.)

Have a great weekend. 

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