Feds launch consultation on AI’s copyright implications as privacy watchdog seeks input on new biometrics guidance

Government of Canada buildings
Consultations come as Canadian authorities explore how to regulate emerging technologies.

The Government of Canada and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) are seeking feedback from Canadians on the intersection of generative AI and copyright, and the OPC’s updated guidance for dealing with biometric data, respectively.

Technologies like AI, fingerprinting, voice identification, and facial recognition pose challenges to copyrights and privacy.

Last week, the federal government launched a consultation to gather Canadians’ thoughts on generative artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on copyright holders.

This came shortly after the OPC announced that it was seeking input on its new draft guidance for how organizations should handle biometric information.

These moves come as the Government of Canada and affiliated agencies explore how to navigate new and evolving technologies, such as AI, fingerprinting, voice identification, and facial recognition, which pose a challenge to both copyrighted works and individual privacy.

The federal government first introduced new legislation aimed at governing privacy and AI in mid-2022 with Bill C-27. The bill completed its second reading in the House of Commons earlier this year and is now being considered by the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology.

For its part, this new Government of Canada consultation on the intersection of generative AI and copyright will explore the use of copyright-protected works in the training of AI systems, authorship and ownership rights related to AI-generated content, and liability when AI-generated content infringes upon existing copyrighted works.

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“Canada’s copyright framework needs to remain balanced and able to facilitate a functional marketplace, and that’s why we’re studying the best way forward to protect the rights of Canadians while ensuring the safe and ethical development of AI,” Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, said in a statement.

Canadians can submit responses online until December 4. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Canadian Heritage will also hold a series of roundtables with stakeholders to gather more feedback. According to the federal government, comments collected through these means will inform copyright policy development.

Meanwhile, the OPC’s existing guidance for biometrics was published in 2011. Since then, biometric technology has evolved significantly.

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In a statement, OPC Commissioner Philippe Dufresne noted the use of biometrics has been “surfacing more frequently” in the OPC’s investigative work, citing police use of facial recognition technology and a telecommunications company that did not obtain consent for its voiceprint authentification program.

“This field is growing at a rapid pace and we recognize the need for guidance to help organizations ensure that they use these technologies in a privacy-protective way,” added Dufresne.

In light of this, the OPC has updated its guidance and is now inviting stakeholders to provide feedback on two documents—its draft guidance for processing biometrics for private organizations and for public institutions—by January 12, 2024.

Feature image courtesy Burst. Photo by Pegleess Barrios.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache. He was also the winner of SABEW Canada’s 2023 Jeff Sanford Best Young Journalist award.

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