Nunavut Post

Clearview AI facial recognition software was used by Toronto police

Clearview AI facial recognition software

Key Takeaways:

  • At least two cases were tried in court using evidence obtained through controversial technology.
  • In the three or a half months, officers used the controversial Clearview AI facial acclaim software to identify suspects and victims.
  • Also witnesses in 84 criminal investigations before their police chief found out or ordered them to stop.

The divulgences are contained in an internal police document obtained by News through an access to information request appeal.

Officers uploaded over 2,800 photos to the U.S. company’s software between October 2019 and early February 2020, looking for a match among the three billion picture Clearview AI extracted from public websites such like Facebook or Instagram to build its database.

In mid-February 2020, Toronto police admitted that some of its officers used Clearview AI, one month after the service denied using it. However, no information about how or to what extent officers used the facial recognition software has been released.

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The internal report details how detectives from various units began to use a free practice of Clearview AI to advance criminal studies without consulting anyone additional than the company and internal supervisors about the technology’s legality and accuracy.

Clearview used by Toronto police; Image from Toronto Star

“When you’re enforcing the law, your 1st obligation is to comply with it,” said Brenda McPhail, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s privacy, technology, and surveillance program (CCLA). “It doesn’t appear that was top of mind as the concept of this tool, examples of this tool, and conversations about this tool circulated throughout the force.”

Given these findings, the co-chair of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association’s criminal law and technology committee believes the police department’s lack of due diligence before using Clearview AI may jeopardize cases in which it was used.

“If the police violated the law as part of their investigations, that could make those investigations vulnerable to charter challenges,” said Toronto lawyer Eric Neubauer.

“In Canada, we have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure one could conceivably see a court arguing that this was a fairly serious violation of that right.”

According to the report, 25 of the 84 criminal investigations where searches were completed were offered through Clearview AI, with investigators determining or confirming the whereabouts of four suspects, 12 victims, and two witnesses.

Source: CBC News

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