Liberal Party must halt use of facial fingerprinting: Canadian Civil Liberties Association

THE Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) on Wednesday called on the Liberal Party of Canada to cease and desist the use of facial fingerprinting for its nomination process.

“By using it for the purposes of nominating candidates for federal election, the Liberal Party of Canada is tacitly endorsing an unreliable, racist technology,” said Michael Bryant, Executive Director of the CCLA.

“Besides its impact on the privacy rights of those participating in the process, the Liberal Party’s use of the controversial technology takes unfair advantage of its exemption from Canadian privacy laws, and sends the wrong message to municipal, provincial and federal election officials that this technology is ready for prime time.”

The CCLA pointed out that facial fingerprinting, or facial recognition technology, is highly contested in Canada and elsewhere. The Liberal Party of Canada has deployed the technology in its candidate nomination process.

The CCLA has sent a letter to the Liberal Party of Canada signed by Bryant and Brenda McPhail, Director, Privacy, Technology and Surveillance.

Numerous studies on facial fingerprinting show the technology and algorithms have a large racial bias. CCLA and other civil society organizations are advocating for a moratorium or ban on this technology pending a critical pan-Canadian discussion.

“By using facial fingerprinting, the Liberal Party signals to municipalities and provinces that facial fingerprinting technology is adequate for voter ID purposes, tacitly endorsing a technology known for discriminatory treatment of black faces, indigenous faces and people of colour. Adopting one of the most invasive, controversial technologies as part of a critical internal process is wrong,” said Bryant.