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Press release
3 March 2020

Facial Recognition Software: The Official Opposition Wants an Initiative Mandate

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The Official Opposition Critic for the Digital Strategy, Ms. Marwah Rizqy, the Official Opposition Critic for Public Security, Ms. Marie-Claude Nichols, and the Official Opposition Critic for Professional Orders and for the Canadian Francophonie, Ms. Kathleen Weil, have sent a request for an initiative mandate to the Committee on Institutions regarding the use and management of facial recognition solutions.

Following the Sûreté du Québec’s call for tenders which sought to acquire facial recognition software which would be able to massively integrate photos by November 30, 2020, the Official Opposition has stated its concern about the risks of racial and social discrimination that such software can generate. The arrival of this kind of technology within many private companies in order to detect client behaviours is also very worrisome.

Authorities all across the globe are declaring moratoriums on this issue. Quebec cannot be passive faced with such an upheaval and must also take action. The current framework is clearly inadequate and the Committee’s access to information power is limited. That is why the government needs to follow suit and impose a moratorium for as long as it takes to properly evaluate the impacts of these technologies and the ethical questions that they generate.

The Official Opposition thereby calls on the members of the Committee on Institutions so that they can consider this initiative mandate urgently as well as undertake reflection and hold expert consultations on the use of facial recognition software.

In a free and democratic society like Quebec, the privacy and protection of honest citizens’ personal information are sacred. The need to call for a moratorium is urgent to avoid becoming a Big Brother society.

– Marwah Rizqy, Official Opposition Critic for the Digital Strategy

It is worrisome that a police force like the Sûreté du Québec is so interested in an extremely controversial facial recognition technology while our criminal law stipulates that a citizen can never be compelled to identify themselves unless the police have reasonable motives to do so, and knowing that this technology could adversely affect certain people. Numerous reports have noted that it remains imprecise for recognizing members of ethnocultural minorities, among others.

– Marie-Claude Nichols, Official Opposition Critic for Public Security