After multiple denials to Global News, Halifax Regional Police confirmed on Friday that their officers have been using Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition software now being investigated by Canada’s privacy commissioner.
Clearview AI’s technology allows for the collection of billions of images from public websites and social media sites that can help police forces and financial institutions identify individuals.
Privacy concerns about the software were raised earlier this year after a New York Times investigation revealed the software had scrapped more than three billion photos from Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to create a database used by more than 600 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere.
Global News had previously asked Halifax Regional Police about using the service. At the time they denied having used it.
The force now says at least one officer has used facial recognition technology.
“Officers are always looking for emerging investigative tools to advance their investigations,” MacLeod said on Friday.
Police say the officer used the service on a “free trial basis” and conducted only “open source data searches.”
Halifax police say they have now suspended the use of the application after they learned on Thursday of a data breach involving Clearview AI.
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