Four months after federal and provincial privacy commissioners said they were investigating a police-affiliated technology company’s use of facial recognition, the company has suspended its contract with the RCMP.
The federal force was Clearview AI’s last remaining client in Canada, the commissioners’ offices said July 6.
Ottawa, Alberta, B.C. and Quebec initiated a joint investigation after media reports stated Clearview AI was using its technology to collect images and make facial recognition available to law enforcement in the context of investigations.
Reports also indicated the New York-based company provides services in multiple countries to organizations ranging from retailers, financial institutions to various government institutions.
“An ongoing issue under investigation by the authorities is the deletion of the personal information of Canadians that Clearview has already collected as well as the cessation of Clearview’s collection of Canadians' personal information,” the commissioners said in a joint news release.
It was revealed in February that Hamilton, Ont. police had been trying out company software but were told to stop.
Earlier that week, Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Brian Beamish said his office should have been consulted before Toronto Police Service began using Clearview AI products.
Beamish said indiscriminate scraping of the internet to collect people’s facial images for law enforcement purposes has significant privacy implications.
The federal commissioner’s office said in February the RCMP had acknowledged use of Clearview’s technology.
Former B.C. commissioner Elizabeth Denham ruled in 2012 that ICBC couldn’t allow police to use the provincial insurer’s facial recognition technology to identify suspected Stanley Cup rioters without a court order.