Author Archives: ICLMG CSILC

Open Letter: Canadian Government Must Ban Use of Facial Recognition by Federal Law Enforcement, Intelligence Agencies


Today, the ICLMG, OpenMedia and 29 organizations and 46 individuals, all active in protecting privacy, human rights and civil liberties, issued a call for the federal government to enact an immediate ban the use of facial recognition surveillance by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the RCMP.

The full letter, addressed to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, and list of signatories is below, and available here [PDF].

Facial recognition surveillance is invasive and inaccurate. This unregulated technology poses a threat to the fundamental rights of people in Canada.

Studies have shown the racial biases in facial recognition surveillance, with leading technology mis-identifying Black, Asian and Indigenous faces 10 to 100 times more than white faces. As the letter points out, at a time when society is pushing to address systemic racism in policing, adopting a technology that is known for its racial biases is a move in the wrong direction.

Even if these biases could be addressed, though, the dangers posed by facial recognition surveillance to our rights would persist. Facial recognition surveillance undermines our freedoms of association, assembly, expression and movement, as well as the right to privacy and protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Canada’s existing privacy laws do not regulate biometrics, including facial recognition, allowing the technology to be adopted by police forces across the country without any oversight or clear rules. For example, the RCMP has used the highly controversial Clearview AI facial recognition technology without consulting the Privacy Commissioner or issuing a Privacy Impact Assessment. The federal police force went so far as to publicly deny its use of Clearview AI’s technology, when it had actually been operating it for several months.

Along with the ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance by law enforcement and intelligence agencies at the federal level, the signatories are also calling on the government to:

  • Initiate a meaningful, public consultation on all aspects of facial recognition technology in Canada;
  • Establish clear and transparent policies and laws regulating the use of facial recognition in Canada, including reforms to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the Privacy Act.

Even with a federal ban on facial recognition surveillance in place, it will be crucial to establish limits around other uses of facial recognition at all levels of government. For example, provinces and municipalities must act to halt the use of facial recognition by local and regional law enforcement.

Other jurisdictions are recognizing the dangers of facial recognition technology, with several US cities banning its use by law enforcement. Even companies that produce the technology have been forced to recognize its dangerous nature, with many halting sales to law enforcement. In Canada, the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner is investigating the RCMP’s use of facial recognition technology, and OpenMedia has launched a petition calling for a country-wide ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance by law enforcement. You can take action here.

The federal government has the opportunity to be a leader on this issue by taking a firm stance on facial recognition surveillance. Minister Blair must enact a ban on its use now, before we see more harm done.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties. You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!

Prime Minister Trudeau Must Take Decisive Action to Bring Yasser Albaz Home

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Yasser Albaz, a Canadian, has been imprisoned without charge in Egypt’s notorious Torah prison for 16 months. The Egyptian government has given no reason for his detention, and his continued imprisonment is a grave violation of his most fundamental human rights. This is without even considering that COVID-19 is spreading throughout the prison, and Yasser has been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms for the past several days.

The ICLMG is joining his family and thousands across Canada calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to take action at the highest level to bring Yasser Albaz home. You can take action at

Below is the statement delivered by Tim McSorley, ICLMG National Coordinator, at the rally to bring Yasser Albaz home in front of the Prime Minister’s office on June 17, 2020.

You can also watch it here.

“Thank you everyone for being here, and thank you to Amal, Safaa and the Albaz family for inviting me to join them here today.

My name is Tim McSorley, I’m the national coordinator with the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. I’m here today on behalf of our 47 member organizations – faith based, labour, social justice, environmental groups – to say enough is enough, Yasser Albaz must come home to Canada, and Prime Minister Trudeau needs to make it happen.

Sixteen months ago, in February 2019, we were informed about Yasser’s imprisonment. We’ve added our voice ever since in order to denounce his indefinite, illegal imprisonment in Egypt and to demand that the Canadian government take all action necessary to bring him home. We had seen this before with other Canadians. We knew the terrible conditions of Torah prison, and we spoke out with others calling for the government to act. We hoped against hope that Yasser would be home soon.

It is unacceptable and shameful that 16 months later, Yasser remains in prison in Egypt.

And it’s important to be clear: he was arrested without charge. He has never been charged. His ongoing and indefinite imprisonment is illegal, violating his most fundamental human rights and in violation of international law.

It is the responsibility of the Canadian government to defend the rights of its citizens, especially those held in such dangerous and illegal conditions as Yasser is facing right now.

And this is all without even considering the new urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic and Yasser’s deteriorating health. So far, Canada has repatriated 40,000 Canadians back to our country. But Yasser remains in prison.

Prime Minister Trudeau has said that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian and stated that no Canadian should ever be subjected to cruel, inhumane punishment. And we should be clear: the conditions that Yasser is held in would be considered inhumane by anyone in the country.

Yasser deserves the same protections as everyone else. Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Champagne must act now.

Father’s Day is this weekend. I can’t imagine how I would feel if my father was imprisoned, his life under threat, in another country. Amal and her family shouldn’t have to spend another father’s day without their dad. Please go on their site,, look them up on Facebook, and send your own message to Prime Minister Trudeau and to your MPs demanding that they bring Yasser home.”

Protect our rights in response to COVID-19

Governments must take extraordinary action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that shouldn’t mean increased surveillance that threatens our privacy and undermine our rights.

We’ve released seven guiding principles for all levels of government to follow when making these important decisions – starting with the need to only bring in tracking tools as a last resort.

Officials are making decisions NOW about how to respond to the pandemic. Please send them a message urging them to follow these principles (listed in the letter) in any decisions they make.

Your message will go to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the federal ministers of Health, Justice and Public Safety, as well as to your provincial ministers of health and justice, and your local representatives (municipal, provincial and federal).

Want more information? Watch the short video below about the seven principles and how governments can protect our privacy and our health: