Canadian police reveal facial biometrics tools used for missing persons investigations

Canada’s federal police are using facial recognition software Traffic Jam and Spotlight to investigate human trafficking and child sexual exploitation, Politico reports. Traffic Jam is developed by Marinus Analytics and Spotlight is developed by Thorn, co-founded by Ashton Kutcher.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has submitted documents to the Parliament of Canada providing information about its use of facial biometrics, which indicates that it stopped using the technologies in 2020. The self-imposed pause on the use of the tools facial recognition was part of the RCMP’s response to public concerns about the use of the technology, as well as an internal review.

A national technology integration program was created by the RCMP in March 2021, after the federal privacy commissioner and several of his provincial counterparts ruled that the use of Clearview AI was illegal in Canada .

The RCMP began using facial recognition for missing persons investigations in 2016. Traffic Jam and Spotlight use Amazon recognition to perform biometric matching.

The force has also considered deploying biometric kiosks to check the backgrounds of government employees, the document submitted to parliament said.

Kate Robertson, a criminal lawyer and researcher at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, told Politico that more transparency and legal limits are needed.

Members of the House of Commons have also called on the RCMP to increase its transparency, including in its responses to a series of hearings on facial recognition held by the Standing Committee on Access to Information, privacy and ethics.

“When used responsibly, facial recognition technology can provide significant benefits, such as helping solve serious crimes, locating missing persons and supporting national security objectives,” the spokesperson said. RCMP, Vito Pilieci, according to Politico. “However, it can also be extremely intrusive, allow widespread surveillance, provide biased results and erode human rights.”

Article topics

biometrics | Canada | facial recognition | Marine Analytics | RCMP | Spotlight | Thorn | Traffic jam

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