Biometrics could soon be subject to more data protection, AI regulations in Canada

Legislation being tabled as Privacy Commissioner calls for more
Biometrics could soon be subject to more data protection, AI regulations in Canada

Canada’s government is planning to bring forward legislation on consumer privacy and the protection of personal data which could have significant consequences for biometrics providers operating in the country, Global News reports.

A bill to create the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA) and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act is included in a parliamentary notice. The bill would also provide more detail on the 10 principles that make up Canada’s digital charter.

Federal privacy law in Canada is established by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which was passed in 2000, and Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has been calling for updated regulation. The CPPA would make PIPEDA’s electronic documents section a stand-alone act, making it easier to amend.

Personal data privacy, and the threat potentially posed to it by AI and biometrics, garnered national attention in Canada earlier this year after an investigation by Therrien’s office found shopping mall operator Cadillac Fairview surreptitiously collected and used facial recognition on images of 5 million people.

Therrien has asked for authority to issue binding orders to businesses, to levy fines for compliance failures, and to inspect organizations’ handling of data.

The Canadian government is looking to establish new online rights for the country’s citizens, including the ability to remove personal information from social media platforms, knowledge of how personal data is being used and the establishment of a national advertising registry, the ability to challenge personal information collected by a government or business, data breach notice, and freedom from discrimination and harassment. A public consultation on those efforts is planned for the near future, a government spokesperson said.

A requirement to inform people of how their data is being used could potentially impose a challenge or additional requirement to a range of biometric applications, from building training datasets, to social media-scraping, and photo-tagging.

Therrien has called on the country’s federal government to establish regulations to protect privacy and human rights from potential threats posed by artificial intelligence, meanwhile, according to the National Post.

AI regulations would help society attain the benefits of AI while upholding fundamental privacy rights, Therrien said in a statement.

“Artificial intelligence has immense promise, but it must be implemented in ways that respect privacy, equality and other human rights,” according to Therrien.

Personal information must be allowed to be used in AI innovation, with restrictions, the commissioner believes.

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