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Facial Recognition Technology Policy Roundtable: What We Heard

November 2020

Facial Recognition
Technology Policy


  • Taylor Owen
  • Derek Ruths
  • Sonja Solomun
  • Charles Finlay
  • Karim Bardeesy
  • Sumit Bhatia
  • Sam Andrey
  • Yuan Stevens
  • Joe Masoodi
  • Fahmida Kamali
  • Braelyn Guppy
  • Raisa Chowdhury
  • Ellen Rowe
  • Zaynab Choudhry



Executive Summary

In November 2020, the Cybersecure Policy Exchange at Ryerson University and the Tech Informed Policy initiative at McGill University’s Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy co-organized a roundtable on the governance of facial recognition technology (FRT). The event brought together 30 expert stakeholders and government officials under Chatham House Rules, to examine the implications of a temporary prohibition on the public sector’s use of FRT in Canada.

After significant developments in the last several years regarding the push for — and against — the use of FRT in Canada and the U.S., the Tech Informed Policy initiative released two policy briefings in August 2020. The first briefing describes the implications for a temporary prohibition or moratorium on the Canadian public sector’s use of FRT. The second briefing explores conditions under which a moratorium could be lifted. The first of these briefings served as the basis of discussion for the roundtable event.

This report summarizes what we heard at the event, organized by: how facial recognition software is being used by the public sector, including its potential benefits and risks; views on the push for a limited prohibition on its use; and options to mitigate risk before and during the use of FRT for consideration, as proposed by the event’s participants.