Toronto Police Consider Adoption of Biometric Tech

The Toronto Police Service is considering implementing facial recognition technology, according to a CBC article by Sarah Bridge. It would be a controversial measure, according to the article, as it raises questions about civil liberties and privacy.

So far, Calgary is the only Canadian city whose police service uses facial recognition software, and it uses it in a range of criminal investigations, from murders to robberies. Privacy advocates worry that facial identifications of bystanders could violate those citizens’ privacy, with one academic quoted in the article as saying that the technology could lead to “criminalizing a large portion of the population.” But the technology also offers major benefits for criminal investigations, allowing police to match suspects’ faces to mug shots within minutes, or even seconds. It has already helped to track down one escaped convicted murderer in Florida, by matching his old military service photo to his new driver’s licence, obtained under an alias.

Set against the wider trends of government interest in biometric security, and police adoption of biometric technology at the local level, it appears more or less inevitable that some degree of facial recognition technology will be employed by the TPS in the near future, though it will likely occur as part of a dialectic with civil liberties advocacy; Alberta’s privacy commissioner has already begun to scrutinize Calgary’s deployment of the technology. As this story touches on one of the major controversial topics in identity management right now we encourage you to read the full article on the CBC website.

November 25, 2014 – by Alex Perala