Facial recognition technology used a handful of law enforcement agencies across the country, can take a mugshot, for example, and scan the internet, including Facebook, Twitter and other social media, to find out more information about a person.Regis Duvignau / Reuters
City police are assessing the potential to use facial recognition technology to battle crime — and the privacy and security implications of such a move.
The Edmonton Police Service is currently in the process of “project assessing” the potential of using facial recognition to help with existing cases, police spokeswoman Cheryl Sheppard said this past week.
“The intention will be to use the technology in response to existing criminal investigations, using a database of pictures previously obtained for a lawful purpose,” said Sheppard.
The technology, she stresses, is not currently in use in Edmonton.
But if police eventually do implement a facial recognition technology plan, it would involve scanning photos obtained for legal reasons in the past, such as mug shots.
The Clearview AI technology, used by a handful of law enforcement agencies across the country, can take a mugshot, for example, and scan the internet, including Facebook, Twitter and other social media, to find out more information about a person.
Such software works by plotting points on your face, then using those points to extrapolate things like age and gender.
Just over one year ago, Microsoft president Brad Smith called for regulating facial recognition technology so that the “year 2024 doesn’t look like a page” from George Orwell’s 1984.
Privacy and safety advocates in Ontario have called on watchdogs in that province to look into the use of Clearview in law enforcement for potential breaches to the public’s rights.
Sheppard said the Edmonton Police Service has never used Clearview AI and it has no plan to implement it at this time. She also notes the force is currently assessing all of the privacy impacts and implications of the technology.
RCMP representatives declined to comment whether they are using Clearview in Alberta or anywhere else in the country, stating they do not comment on specific investigative tools or techniques. But the RCMP did say they monitor new and evolving technology.