Facial Recognition Briefing #1

Implications of a Moratorium on
Public Use of Facial Recognition Technology in Canada 

Executive Summary

This briefing is one of two on Facial Recognition (FR) Technology. This memo addresses how FR works and is used, as well as the implications of a federal moratorium, while memo #2 explores the conditions for lifting said moratorium.

  • Since March 2020, calls for Canada to impose a national moratorium on facial recognition technology, especially for companies providing FR services to law enforcement agencies, have increased.
  • A national moratorium would provide legislators time to develop a comprehensive and effective policy regulating the development, use, and distribution of FR technology and the data it collects, uses, and shares.
  • Current FR technology is not infallible. FR service cannot be relied on by law enforcement due to its potential to discriminate against certain demographics and exacerbate conditions of inequality.
  • This briefing outlines the technological, social, and policy, and legal conditions required to lift a Canadian moratorium on FR systems. Readers will learn the concerns, limitations, and potential harms of FR technology, as well as the technical implications of a federal moratorium. The second memo will conclude with the technical, social, and policy conditions for lifting a federal moratorium as well as recommendations on safely using FR technology.