Candid facial-recognition cameras to scan for terrorists at border

OTTAWA - Canada's border agency plans to compare images of people arriving in the country with photographs of suspects on watchlists to keep out alleged terrorists and other criminals.

See Full Article

The federal privacy watchdog has cautioned the agency that the scheme could ensnare the wrong travellers, resulting in unwarranted scrutiny for some people at the border.

The Canada Border Services Agency wants to see how well the facial-recognition technology works at various locations and under specific lighting and crowd-movement conditions.

The border agency's science and engineering directorate has quietly been working with the University of Quebec and other partners to gauge the ability of devices to extract needed information from video footage.

The initiative is among the latest federal efforts to use biometric tools that focus on personal characteristics - such as fingerprints, an iris or the contours of one's face - to identify people in the name of security.

In his recently released annual report, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien says his office provided advice on the potential pitfalls, including the possibility of "false positives" that could result in unnecessary secondary screening for travellers.

The office also urged the border agency to assess the risks of using such technology, including issues that might arise during testing phases.

The border agency declined to make anyone available to discuss the project. In written answers, the agency said it continues to work with the commissioner to "ensure that privacy implications are appropriately addressed."

The agency also noted that while it plans to test the technology in an "operational context," no trials involving actual travellers have yet taken place.

The surveillance tool could eventually be in place at border points and international airports across Canada.

According to the commissioner's office, for facial recognition to be successful there needs to be a quality digital image of an individual's face, a database of images of identified individuals and facial-recognition software that will accurately find a match between the two.

Technical findings published by the federal border agency indicate researchers have assessed the technique's use in settings such as an interview counter, hallway, turnstile, and waiting and baggage-claim areas.

One thread of the research looked at a system's ability to match images of people in a video stream with photos of "persons of interest."

The Calgary police service is said to be the first force in Canada to use the technology for solving crimes.

Passport Canada has been using facial recognition for years to scrutinize photos and prevent the same person from holding multiple passports under different names. The privacy commissioner has made several recommendations about the initiative, saying all of the data in the system should be protected through encryption.

"We are not yet at the point where we can take pictures of people on the street with our smartphones, identify them, and gain access to information about them," said a March 2013 report published by the commissioner's office.

"However, this reality may not be too far off and we can only imagine what that will do to our interactions, relationships, and how we conduct our lives."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • North Dakota officials pledge 'humane' help for protesters as 'winter begins to take hold'

    World News CBC News
    The head of North Dakota's emergency management services says the state is prepared to respond to Dakota Access pipeline protesters who may need help during a winter storm or some other crisis. State Homeland Security Director Greg Wilz said it would be a "huge challenge," especially during a mass evacuation, but his office has winter shelter plans in place and various agencies are ready to respond. Source
  • At least 9 dead in fire at Oakland, Calif., warehouse party [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    OAKLAND, Calif. — At least nine people died in a blaze that broke out during a party in a warehouse late Friday night in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to fire officials. Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloche-Reed says at least another 13 people are unaccounted for as of Saturday morning. Source
  • Brothers in barbarity [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    The Clark brothers had bizarre tastes. And that taste was for human flesh. Hadden and Bradfield Clark were cannibals. And both were vindictive, mean-spirited monsters. “Sometimes, he couldn’t control himself. If something didn’t go his way, he’d get very upset. Source
  • 'Anybody can be a terrorist'; Ohio a hotbed for radicalization?

    World News Toronto Sun
    CINCINNATI — Authorities are investigating terrorism as a possible motive in the car-and-knife attack on the Ohio State University campus, the latest in a series of cases involving young men who apparently became radicalized in the heartland state. Source
  • Chef credited with inventing General Tso's Chicken has died

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The chef credited with inventing General Tso's Chicken, a world-famous Chinese dish smothered in a sweet sauce that was never a staple in China, has died in Taiwan at 98. Peng Chang-kuei died of pneumonia last Wednesday in Taipei, his son, Chuck Peng, told The Associated Press. Source
  • Bergdahl seeks pardon from Obama to avert desertion trial

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the former prisoner of war who's accused of endangering comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan, is asking President Barack Obama to pardon him before leaving office. Source
  • Morocco arrests suspect tied to thwarted French attack plot

    World News CTV News
    RABAT, Morocco -- Moroccan police have arrested a "dangerous element" who allegedly served as a liaison between the Islamic State group's external operations and members of a French cell that was dismantled last month while allegedly planning an attack. Source
  • 9 dead in fire at Oakland, Calif., warehouse party

    World News Toronto Sun
    OAKLAND, Calif. — At least nine people died in a blaze that broke out during a party in a warehouse late Friday night in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to fire officials. Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloche-Reed says at least another 13 people are unaccounted for as of Saturday morning. Source
  • IS exploits rain, hits Iraqi militias west, south of Mosul

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- Islamic State militants have staged near simultaneous attacks on positions of state-sanctioned militias west and south of Iraq's northern city of Mosul, apparently taking advantage of bad weather conditions that normally disrupt air support, two militia officials said on Saturday. Source
  • Islamic State exploits rain, hits Iraqi militias west, south of Mosul

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- Islamic State militants have staged near simultaneous attacks on positions of state-sanctioned militias west and south of Iraq's northern city of Mosul, apparently taking advantage of bad weather conditions that normally disrupt air support, two militia officials said on Saturday. Source