June 20, 2011 by Canadian Underwriter
A Canadian privacy lawyer is questioning the precedent established by the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC)’s recent offer to give Vancouver police access to the public insurer’s facial recognition technology to help identify people involved in the Stanley Cup riot on June 15.
About 50 businesses were damaged after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins, triggering a riot that saw cars overturned and downtown businesses looted. Preliminary damage reports suggest the damage to be in the neighbourhood of $2 million, although an official tally has not been disclosed.
In a blog post, David T.S. Fraser, a partner with the firm of McInnes Cooper, noted police would have to obtain a court order to be able to use the ICBC’s database of drivers’ license photos, accompanied by the biometric measurements of those photos.
Still, he wrote, “I am greatly concerned that information collected for one purpose, namely identifying licensed drivers, will be reused for a completely unrelated purpose without adequate debate about what this means in the big picture.
“This would set a precedent in Canada that might permit the use of Foreign Affairs’ massive passport photo database and each provincial drivers’ license database to (supposedly) finger people in what is essentially a property crime investigation.”