Skip to main content

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association urges Montréal City council to protect their constituents from identity and personal data theft. Facial fingerprinting by police has been outlawed in many US and European jurisdictions. Montréal has a great opportunity to be a global leader on digital rights. Your elected council should decide if, when, and how any new, invasive surveillance happens in your city.

One of the most important rights of a citizen, to be protected by their state, is the right to be left alone; the right to be a face in the crowd. Facial fingerprinting technology is anaethama to that right.

If you are okay with having your new-born fingerprinted at birth, with those prints going into a police database in perpetuity, then you’re okay with facial fingerprinting, or facial recognition technology, as it’s called. Montreal police may tell themselves it’s just about canvassing mug shots, but they know otherwise. The problem is that our personal identity ought to be treated with dignity and privacy in a constitutional democracy. Taking it without our consent or a lawful warrant is the opposite of dignity and privacy and freedom.

The law requires that any search, seizure, dusting, downloading, extraction, collection and storage of biometric data like DNA or fingerprints, requires compliance with laws designed to recognize that biometrics are particularly personal, sensitive information and there must be due process and appropriate safeguards in place to govern their collection. But when it comes to facial biometrics, police around the world pretend that the same safeguards are unnecessary. Why? The answer seems to be variously: ends justified the means, or everyone’s doing it, or hey, it saves time. Not compelling reasons to abandon due process or civil liberties.

Outside the justice sector, there are still questions about how private profiteers, governments and public researchers can use your facial fingerprints. Until the legislative procrastination ends, until the necessary legal protections are ready for prime time, it is self-evident that we require a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology in Montreal.

Thank you to Councillor Marvin Rotrand and Abdelhaq Sari, for what your leadership, for what you do for Montrealers, like my daughter and her grandmother. To the SPVM, keep your high-tech fingerprinters off the faces of Montreal.



Read out letter to Councillor Rotrand
Read our Tech Moratorium Presser

About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

For the Media

For further comments, please contact us at

For Live Updates

Please keep referring to this page and to our social media platforms. We are on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

en_CAEnglish (Canada)