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Information and privacy commissioners in Atlantic Canada marked Data Privacy Day on Tuesday by highlighting the growing prevalence of facial recognition technology.

The commissioners from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island say that while the technology is in limited use in Canada, it is being increasingly employed by public bodies and private companies around the world.

In a joint statement, the commissioners say as the technology matures, “There is little doubt that Canadian public bodies will explore its use to enhance their delivery of goods and services.”

They say in every such instance, the privacy implications that arise need to be carefully considered and weighed against the potential benefits.

The commissioners say they have previously questioned their respective governments on the need for the technology, as well as on the safeguards needed to protect the information gathered from its potential misuse.

They say the onus is on public bodies to educate and consult with the public when it comes to the implementation of the technology, which is currently used by provincial governments in the region to confirm the identities of people seeking government-issued photo identification.

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