Sunday, June 19, 2011

ICBC offers up its drivers' license database (with facial recognition) to ID Vancouver rioters

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia is offering up its massive database of drivers' license photos, accompanied by the biometric measurements of those photos, to the police to help identify those involved in the recent Stanley Cup riot. (See: Insurance corporation offers to help ID rioters - British Columbia - CBC News.)

They are saying they'd need a court order to do so, but nevertheless I think this is a serious issue that hopefully any judge considering such an application will think long and hard about. Yes the riot was appalling and yes there are many, many photos available of people who were involved. 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. If police are allowed access in this case, they'll be looking for access in many, many more. The "slippery slope" argument is a pretty compelling one, since once the pandora's box is opened it's very hard to put the lid on it.

9 comments:

Dirt Merchant said...

Good post. I agree that this is an extremely slippery slope. The rioters need to be brought to justice but what are the controls on how this database is used by the police? Will they have permanent access? Will they use it for identifying participants at political rallies and other peaceable assemblies?

Anonymous said...

people that have nothing to hide have nothing to worry about.

David T.S. Fraser said...

I find it interesting that the last comment was posted anonymously.

Anonymous said...

And what happens if your blamed or targeted for a crime that you didn't even commit because some software falsely identified you?

Anonymous said...

I don't remember giving ICBC permission to release this info. ICBC is not a government agency.

David T.S. Fraser said...

Thought it acts like a private insurance company in some respects, it is a crown corporation that is subject to the public sector privacy law that would permit it to do such things.

David T.S. Fraser said...

"Though"

Georgia Drivers Ed said...

Rioters need to be brought to justice, but also it's the responsibility of the gov to secure the driver license, passport data bases, i don't support giving the access to database until unless they provide a security layer and a strong law to punish the public servants if they found misusing the information.

Abed Nadier said...

I think it's definitely the responsibility of the government to secure personal data. My friend is a ICBC lawyer and so he's dealing with this kind of thing all the time. I don't know if rioting is the most effective way to deal with something like this but something should be done.