Quebec sets rules for biometric identification systems

September 13, 2012 - 

An article that appeared in McMillan noted that in the Canadian province of Quebec there are rules that make the implementation of biometrics highly prohibitive.

In Quebec, employers need to comply with the requirements set in the “Act to Establish a Legal Framework for Information Technology”, which the Quebec Commission on Information Access strictly monitors.

Under the act, both physiological biometry and behavioral biometry are available to employers. Usually, employers choose physiological biometry, which deals with fingerprints to record employee attendance. Kronos Touch ID Technology is used often because it does not store fingerprint images. All it requires is for the employee to enter his or her personal ID code and place his or her finger on a screen.

Biometric identification systems based on mathematical representation technology are acceptable to the Quebec Commission on Information Access as it does not store images, thus it does not infringe on the rights of an individual to privacy.

The “Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector” is strict when it comes to employers using biometrics in Quebec. There are nine conditions summarized in its guidelines entitled “Biometrics in Quebec: Application Principles, Making an Informed Choice.”

The approach first prompts employers to explore alternative choices other than biometrics. If employers do choose biometrics, they need to secure the consent of each individual or employee to be subjected to biometrics. This gives employees the option whether to give their consent or not, and employees can withhold their consent without providing any justification. Employers need to conduct information sessions so as to acquaint and make the employees understand the “ins and outs” of the biometric identification system and its necessity to be employed in the workplace. Furthermore, employers have to consult with legal counsel to make sure that human rights issues are assessed properly and that necessary legal requirements and reporting obligations to Commission are obliged with.

Do you think Quebec’s strict conditions concerning employers installing biometrics prohibits its implementation in the workplace?

Leave a Comment


About T'ash Spenser

T’ash Spencer writes full time for She has 15 years experience in the field of regional planning and earned her Master’s of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management from the University of Dortmund, Germany. Follow her @tashspencer1.