MP accuses RCMP officials of delivering ‘dodgy’ testimony on facial recognition technology | CBC News


An try by members of Parliament to search out out extra concerning the RCMP’s use of controversial facial recognition software program hit a wall Monday as one MP accused police officers of being “deliberately evasive.”

The standing committee on entry to info, privateness and ethics met this morning to proceed its research of the usage of the rising expertise in Canada.

Their efforts come a yr after federal Privateness Commissioner Daniel Therrien acknowledged that the RCMP’s use of facial recognition software program created by the U.S.-based Clearview AI amounted to a critical violation of Canada’s privateness legal guidelines.

That software program permits customers to match photographs in opposition to a database of greater than three billion pictures. 

In a heated line of questioning Monday, NDP MP Matthew Inexperienced pressed Gordon Sage, director basic of delicate and specialised investigative providers for the RCMP, to state who licensed the software program for the RCMP’s use again in 2018 and who oversaw the method.

“Are you able to please identify your predecessor?” he requested. 

NDP MP Matthew Inexperienced arrives for a committee listening to within the Wellington Constructing in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

After a back-and-forth alternate, Sage finally mentioned that the official in query has since retired and he did not assume he had the proper to call them.

“It’s my perspective that you simply afforded your predecessor extra consideration of their rights to be named in a state of affairs, that’s actually public info within the public discussion board, than the billions of people that have had their pictures compiled and analyzed by this A.I. expertise,” mentioned Inexperienced.

“What we now have, what I’ve — I will converse for myself —  is a big belief concern.”

Contempt of Parliament warning 

Later, Conservative MP James Bezan described the replies MPs on the committee obtained from the three RCMP officers known as as witnesses as “deliberately evasive” — and reminded them they might be present in contempt of Parliament if they do not cooperate.

“A number of the solutions that we had been receiving right this moment have been very a lot restricted and I might recommend that witnesses ought to train their obligations to this committee, that these of us across the desk have parliamentary privilege and do anticipate fulsome solutions,” he mentioned.

“And one-word solutions and being dodgy shouldn’t be fulfilling our work as committee members.” 

Conservative MP James Bezan asks a query throughout query interval within the Home of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on, October 27, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The RCMP at first denied using Clearview AI’s software in 2020. It later confirmed it had been utilizing the software program after information broke that the corporate’s shopper listing had been hacked.

That very same yr, a New York Occasions investigation revealed the software program had extracted greater than three billion photographs from public web sites like Fb and Instagram. It then turned them right into a database utilized by greater than 600 legislation enforcement businesses within the U.S., Canada and elsewhere.

The corporate ceased providing its facial recognition providers in Canada following the launch of the federal privateness commissioner’s investigation. The RCMP mentioned it has stopped utilizing the software program.

RCMP says it used the expertise thrice 

Sage mentioned Monday the pressure used Clearview AI in three official circumstances: twice inside the little one exploitation unit and as soon as to trace a fugitive who was overseas.

“There was quite a lot of members that had been testing the expertise to see if it labored. They had been utilizing quite a lot of searches on their very own footage, on their very own profiles to see if this expertise labored. They took images of celebrities and ran it via the Clearview to see if it labored,” he mentioned.

“In truth, and by testing this expertise, we realized it wasn’t all the time efficient.”

Following a backlash over its use of Clearview AI’s tech, the RCMP introduced plans to be extra clear about the way it approves and makes use of new expertise and investigative instruments involving the gathering and use of non-public info.

The RCMP is promising to launch that new coverage by the top of June. 

Monday’s committee wrapped with the members agreeing to ask RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki to attend.

“[The RCMP] has not, for my part, demonstrated the flexibility to have the type of candour and frankness with civilian oversight our bodies, such because the Home of Commons, to offer primary info for Canadians who’re involved about their civil liberties,” mentioned Inexperienced throughout his questioning.

Final week, Therrien and his provincial counterparts issued a press release calling on legislators to create guidelines that spell out explicitly when police can use facial recognition tech.

“No-go zones ought to embrace a prohibition on any use of facial recognition that can lead to mass surveillance,” they wrote.

“Laws ought to require police use of facial recognition to be each obligatory and proportionate for any given deployment of the expertise.”

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