There has been a lot of attention and debate recently around the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement in Canada. While the RCMP generally does not disclose specific tools and technologies used in the course of its investigations, in the interest of transparency, we can confirm that we recently started to use and explore Clearview AI's facial recognition technology in a limited capacity.
The RCMP's National Child Exploitation Crime Centre (NCECC) has been using and evaluating Clearview AI's software for approximately four months for online child sexual exploitation investigations.
The NCECC has two licenses for the Clearview AI application and has used it in 15 cases, resulting in the successful identification and rescue of two children.
Only trained victim identification specialists in the NCECC use the software primarily to help identify, locate and rescue children who have been or are victims of online sexual abuse.
We are also aware of limited use of Clearview AI on a trial basis by a few units in the RCMP to determine its utility to enhance criminal investigations.
The RCMP will be engaging with the Privacy Commissioner to work in partnership with him to develop guidelines and policies that conform to legislation and regulations.
The Internet has changed the way child sexual exploitation offences are committed, investigated and prosecuted and Clearview AI is only one of many tools/techniques that are used in the identification of victims of online child sexual abuse.
Sexual offences committed against children are among the most deplorable of all crimes and often causes long term negative impacts for its young victims. The NCECC was created in response to this growing and disturbing crime. A key part of its mandate is victim identification.
Rates of online child sexual exploitation continue to increase every year. In 2019, the NCECC received 102,967 reports of online child sexual abuse, a dramatic 1106% increase since 2014. This was a 68% increase from last year.
While we recognize that privacy is paramount and a reasonable expectation for Canadians, this must be balanced with the ability of law enforcement to conduct investigations and protect the safety and security of Canadians, including our most vulnerable.