Clearview AI Broke Canadian Privacy Laws With Facial Recognition Tool, Watchdogs Say

February 3, 2021 Updated: February 3, 2021

OTTAWA—A new watchdog report says Canadian use of U.S. firm Clearview AI’s facial-recognition technology violated federal and provincial laws governing personal information.

In a report today with three provincial counterparts, federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien says the New York-based company’s scraping of billions of images of people from across the internet represented mass surveillance and was a clear violation of Canadians’ privacy rights.

Clearview AI’s technology allows for the collection of huge numbers of images from various sources that can help police forces, financial institutions and other clients identify people.

The investigation by Therrien and privacy-protection authorities for Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec says Clearview AI’s technology allowed law enforcement and commercial organizations to match photographs of unknown people against the company’s databank of more than three billion images for investigation purposes.

Therrien announced last year that Clearview AI would stop offering its facial-recognition services in Canada in response to the investigation.

The move included the indefinite suspension of Clearview AI’s contract with the RCMP, its last remaining client in Canada