On October 27, 2020, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) announced two resolutions adopted by the Global Privacy Assembly (GPA, formerly the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners) concerning the development and use of facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence (AI) systems.  The OPC and over 100 other GPA members representing data protection authorities around the world participated virtually in the 42nd GPA closed session in October to consider key data protection and privacy challenges.

The resolution on facial recognition technology recognizes the capabilities of the technology and its potential benefits to security and public safety, while emphasizing that its intrusive nature poses a great risk to data protection, privacy, and human rights.  Accordingly, the GPA resolved to work together in developing agreed principles and expectations for the appropriate use of personal information in facial recognition technology that respect data protection and ensure privacy by design in the development of innovative uses of this technology.

With respect to the development and use of AI, the GPA resolved to urge organizations that develop or use AI systems to consider implementing 12 accountability measures, including assessing the potential impact to human rights (such as data protection and privacy rights) before the development and/or use of AI.  The resolution also called on governments to consider implementing legislative changes to personal data protection laws to clarify the legal obligations regarding accountability in the development and use of AI.

According to the OPC, these resolutions serve to “highlight the importance of legal frameworks that allow technologies to produce benefits in the public interest while also preserving the fundamental right to privacy”.

Summary By: Anna Troshchynsky


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