September 27, 2021
The Liberals say they will set up a facial recognition database within two years for 25 million Canadian passport holders, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
The program would see federal agencies compile a database of millions of Canadians’ faces.
“The department must have facial recognition system support capabilities in place no later than October 2023,” the Department of Citizenship wrote in a report.
Cost of the program was not detailed.
Canadians who apply for passports are deemed to agree to having their photographs stored in a federal database, said the notice: “Applicants consent to their photos being used to confirm identity through the passport program’s facial recognition system.
“Facial recognition systems act as an effective and accurate tool for the department’s passport program for use in authenticating the identity of each adult passport applicant which helps to increase the assurance the applicant is who they say they are,” wrote staff.
There are few confirmed cases of identity fraud in the passport system. Auditors found an average 57 cases a year.
Under the program, passport photos would be compiled in a mammoth electronic database.
“This technology applies a digital biometric template to an applicant’s picture and compares it to a database of over 45 million adult applicant photos to validate their identity,” said the report.
Auditors said the program was “not well integrated with the passport issuance system” to date despite years of study beginning with a 2016 pilot project.
MPs earlier complained the program has grown with little parliamentary scrutiny.
“The issue of facial recognition, the data and images that are used, I am very concerned as an individual but also as a legislator,” Bloc Québécois MP Marie-Helene Gaudreau (Laurentides-Labelle, Que.) told a June 21 hearing of the Commons ethics committee.
“When I’m asked about what we have done to properly protect people, I’m a little embarrassed.”
“Most folks have already provided their biometric information if only for the purposes of a passport,” Bloc MP Rhéal Fortin (Riviere-du-Nord, Que.), told a May 10 hearing.