Face recognition RCMP was very positive about Clearview

Prior to its inception, Clearview AI’s controversial face recognition technology aroused such admiration from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2019 that its executives invited the company to demonstrate it at the Interpol International Conference on Child Exploitation.

Published at 5:00 p.m.

Tristan Pelokin

Tristan Pelokin

The Canadian Privacy Commissioner and his provincial counterparts describe US technology, which identifies suspects by comparing their faces to a bank of more than 3 billion images of citizens collected without the consent of social media, as a tool of “illegal mass surveillance.”

Last week, commissioners issued a joint statement calling for a special law to regulate police use of face recognition, largely justified by the fact that Clearview AI collects images of citizens “unreasonably.”

Documents received for Pressand thanks Law on Access to Information show that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), when asked about the use of Clearview AI in 2020, first wanted to protect this “investigative technique”, which until then remained on the radar. At the time, police had already obtained two licenses from Clearview AI, citing the fact that the technology allowed the US FBI to detect up to 150 child victims of sexual abuse a year, up from 50 previously.

Children will continue to be sexually abused and exploited online [si la demande de licence est rejetée]. There will be no one to save them, because the tool that could be used to save them was not considered important enough.

Extract from RCMP “request for approval” received Press thanks to Law on Access to Information.

A few weeks later, an official from the Internet Anti-Child Exploitation Group (GLEEI) asked a senior CEO to come and demonstrate the integration of Clearview into the unity database at an Interpol conference scheduled for Lyon or Singapore in October or November 2020.


An investigation by the Federal Privacy Commissioner later found that the RCMP then authorized the creation of 16 Clearview accounts without “providing a reasonable justification for their purpose or use” or even assessing the tool’s compliance. Privacy Act. None of the Technical Investigators’ internal experts “knew about the use of this technology, although Clearview technology was widely used in five different RCMP units.”

The result: billions of people meet daily, 24 hours a day, at the police identification parade.

Completion of the investigation conducted by the Federal Commissioner for Confidentiality

While face recognition can help “solve serious crimes,” the commissioners say it poses a “too high” risk to privacy to be used 360 degrees, the joint statement said.

“Even if certain violations of this right can be justified in specific circumstances, people do not waive their right to privacy,” the commissioners said. “The current legal framework for the use of face recognition by police in Canada is insufficient to address the associated risks to confidentiality and other fundamental rights. »

In collaboration with William Leclerc, Press

Substantiated complaint against Press

Some of the information contained in this article comes from a request for access to information sent to the RCMP on 10 February 2020. Under Law on Access to Information, the police had 30 days to respond. “The RCMP did not fulfill its obligation to respond to the request in a timely manner” and did not explain why it took more than 26 months. “Complaint [de La Presse] founded, ”sums up the Chief Investigating Director of the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada in response to a complaint we formally filed… almost a year ago.