Facial recognition as Parliament Hill security tool would pose legal, privacy risks: study

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1:39Blair defends bill criticized by privacy czar amid facial recognition concerns

WATCH: Blair defends bill criticized by privacy czar amid facial recognition concerns – May 11, 2021

A study prepared for the parliamentary protective unit says the use of facial recognition technology as a security tool on Parliament Hill would pose substantial legal, privacy and human rights risks – and might even be unlawful.

It warns the technology could be used to surveil, track, identify or misidentify a person, and might lead to decisions that result in them being stopped, questioned, detained or arbitrarily prevented from entering the parliamentary precinct.

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The findings come amid heightened concern about the safety of politicians and those who participate in the public arena following a spate of verbal abuse and threats directed at members of Parliament and journalists, particularly women and people of colour.

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The report was completed in April by the Leadership Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University at the request of the Parliamentary Protective Service, which funded the research.

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Information was gathered through interviews with protective service members as well as lawyers, scholars and people with expertise in facial recognition.

The Parliamentary Protective Service says it does not use – nor does it intend to introduce – facial recognition technology, but adds that it needs to learn more about “emerging and ever-evolving threats and technologies” to ensure physical security within the parliamentary precinct.

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