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Canadian government seeks dismissal of biometric data privacy suit against federal police

Suit alleges violations from use of Clearview facial recognition
Canadian government seeks dismissal of biometric data privacy suit against federal police

Canada’s Federal Government has filed a motion to have the certification of a potential class action lawsuit over biometric data privacy filed against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police dismissed, The Canadian Press reports.

Photographer Ha Vi Doan filed suit against the government over the use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition app by the RCMP, but government lawyers say that the allegation does not include “harm of any kind,” according to the report.

The suit was filed in 2020, alleging Clearview violated Canada’s personal data privacy law by collecting biometrics for a commercial purpose without consent. Since then, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner has declared the use of Clearview by the RCMP unlawful, and lawmakers have continued to press the RCMP for more transparency on its biometrics use.

The RCMP has publicly maintained that the app was only actually used in investigations of online child abuse, while the court filing mentions its use in a search for a fugitive, plus tests with images of police officers, celebrities, and media images of missing persons. The filing by federal government lawyers notes that Doan obtained confirmation that Clearview held seven images of her collected from the internet.

“Access to any public database or search engine does not create liability with respect to every person whose information is contained therein regardless of whether or how or what information was actually accessed,” the government’s representatives argue. They note that Doan does not allege that the RCMP saw or copied her images.

“In the absence of any material fact that the defendant looked for, saw, or copied some information related to the plaintiff, it is illusory to speak of violations of her rights or of causation.”

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