RCMP violates Canadians' privacy using Clearview AI facial recognition

Occurred: June 2021

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was found guilty of breaking the law by using facial recognition to collect the personal information of Canadians without their knowledge or consent.

Canada's privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said the RCMP was guilty of 'serious and systemic failings' in its information gathering operations using controversial facial monitoring company Clearview AI. 

Clearview AI uses artificial intelligence to match people’s images against a database of billions of photos scraped from the internet, including social media sites. 

Similar to other police forces across Canada, the RCMP had previously publicly stated it was not using Clearview AI, only to later confirm that officers had used trial versions of the system without the knowledge or authorisation of police leadership. 

The incident raised questions about the RCMP's governance, honesty, transparency and accountability, as well as about the extent and scope of Clearview AI's operations. 

In July 2020, Clearview AI announced it would pull out of Canada and stop working with the RCMP during the watchdog's investigation into whether Clearview AI technology broke Canadian privacy law.

Operator: Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
Developer: Clearview AI
Country: Canada
Sector: Govt - police
Purpose: Strengthen law enforcement
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy; Surveillance
Transparency: Governance; Privacy; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: October 2021
Last updated: January 2023