Police in a major Canadian tech hub have suspended their use of facial recognition technology in the wake of the Clearview AI scandal.
The company has attracted intense scrutiny since a New York Times report revealed that it had trawled the internet, including social media platforms, for its facial recognition platform that it pitched to police agencies. The Waterloo Regional Police Service was later revealed to be on Clearview’s client list, though the police agency says it halted use of the service in February, after The New York Times‘ explosive story but before the client list was published.
Waterloo and its sister city, Kitchener, are together one of the biggest hubs for tech companies in Canada.
As CTV News reports, Clearview AI had been used in the Waterloo Regional Police Service’s Cyber Crime Unit, which is primarily tasked with investigating the sexual abuse of children. Officers had used the facial recognition technology to identify victims and suspects in their work.
The police agency’s decision to halt the use of facial recognition technology stands in contrast to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s disclosure that it will continue to use Clearview AI, though only for investigations involving child sexual exploitation, or situations in which there is an imminent threat of serious harm.
The Waterloo Regional Police Service has not committed to a complete ban on the use of facial recognition, but instead framed its suspension as depending on the development of guidelines concerning privacy issues. While the use of facial recognition for authentication, such as unlocking a smartphone, is uncontroversial, its use in surveillance and nonconsensual identification has been the subject of intense debate.
Source: CTV News
March 12, 2020 – by Alex Perala