Private group halt usage of facial-recognition technology

The Insurance Corporation of BC is currently under investigation for offering its help for identifying participants in the Stanley Cup Riot last month.

B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner want to determine whether ICBC’s use of this technology complies with privacy laws.

Commissioner Elizabeth Denham says that there is a fine balance to be struck in weighing a citizen’s privacy interests. Also the use of personal information for law enforcement.  The balance of interest should be carefully considered.

In 2008, ICBC presented the facial-recognition technology to aid them in their fight against identity theft and fraud.  The software acquires the pictures in the driver’s license and stores them for future use.  Matching each photo with old photo, which can be found in the database.  In February, the software  upgraded so that it could match images stored from other sources in order to help police with the investigation that needed help.  After the event on Stanley cup, a riot broke out.  ICBC offers their help to in resolving the crime.

ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman says their company is well-versed in privacy guidelines.  They know what is appropriate and what is not.

Grossman says that if the police have some open an open file in investigation either on a person or set of people, this will create some work for ICBC.  They would look for potential matches; if they could find some matches then they are going to report it to authorities.

On a written statement, released, on Friday says that it is vital that they protect privacy all the time.  They have been in communication with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ever since the last few weeks and have plans on working with the office for a longer period.  They are open with any findings that may strengthen their practices.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association  concerned that if it goes on unregulated, authorities could use it for harassing people such as public surveillance.

Policy director Micheal Vonn says that the general public has the right to know what is going on with the facial-recognition technology.  The public is not aware of the ground in terms of what the rules could be or should be.  The embedding of surveillance technology within the system is a totally new and people need to understand the appropriate rules and constraints that concern the technology.

To date, authorities have not yet accepted the proposal from the ICBC.  They are already aware of the technology but have not used it on any investigation till now.