Facial recognition cameras in Canada

OpenMedia r1

Hi Paov, would you be happy with facial recognition surveillance cameras on the streets in Canada, tracking people and matching faces to databases as we go about our daily lives?

In less than a week, 6,000 people in Canada have signed on to demand that our next government immediately put a moratorium on the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, and a review of our privacy laws. Will you add your name too?


Even though our privacy laws don’t currently cover facial recognition, the technology has been spreading quickly throughout Canada. It’s invasive, biased, and unreliable. And it’s not right to experiment on people in Canada with unregulated technology. But if we speak out together now, we have a real chance to protect our privacy and put the brakes on the spread of facial recognition technology.

Thanks for all you do,

Victoria with OpenMedia

My original message to you is below


Hi Paov, hugely controversial facial recognition technology is spreading like wildfire in Canada. And right now, there are no laws to govern how it’s used.

Facial recognition technology works by scanning images or surveillance video of your face, and using computer algorithms to match it to images in a database.

It’s already being used by law enforcement in some cities in Canada, as well as a chain of popular shopping malls, who use it to monitor the age and gender of shoppers.1,2

Facial recognition technology is a huge threat to our privacy, and there are major issues with accuracy and bias within the software that’s used, which can have serious implications for anyone wrongly matched. But if enough of us speak out right now, we can put the brakes on before this goes too far.

Tell government: We need a full moratorium on the use of facial recognition by law enforcement, and a proper review of our privacy laws to address the risks of this technology.


In many countries, facial recognition has already ballooned out of control.

Half of all adults in the United States are now in facial recognition databases3, and Trump has signed an order for facial recognition identification to be used on all international travellers in the top 20 U.S. airports by 2021.

In the UK, facial recognition is already being rolled out on public streets to monitor all passers-by, and in Hong Kong, there have been huge concerns about facial recognition systems targeting people during recent protests.4

Unless we do something now, Canada will be next in line for this intrusive surveillance to spread across the places where we live our daily lives.


Facial recognition technology is a slippery slope that can easily lead to constant, real-time surveillance where daily activities such as shopping and travelling around your community, or activities like attending a protest or political event are monitored, recorded and stored. We need to have a serious conversation in Canada about whether this is the way we want to go.

The fact that this technology isn’t covered in our privacy laws right now is frightening - but it’s also a big opportunity.

First, we need our government to immediately call a moratorium on the use of this technology by law enforcement and other government agencies. And crucially, we need a full, transparent and public consultation on our privacy laws to deal with the risks, and protect our privacy from unregulated testing of facial recognition technology on people in Canada.

Please sign our message now to make your voice heard!

Thanks for everything you do,

Victoria at OpenMedia

[1] Montreal grapples with privacy concerns as more Canadian police forces use facial recognition:
[2] Privacy Commissioner to look at facial recognition technology in malls: CityNews
[3] Half of American Adults Are in Police Facial-Recognition Databases:
The Atlantic
[4] Are you ready for a world of facial recognition? Several UK police forces have been trialling the technology:
BBC Click (Twitter)


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