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November 16, 2010

OLG announces privacy-protective facial recognition

Design protocol employs emerging tech

Tom Marinelli , Acting CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner   Dr. Ann Cavoukian, has released a white paper announcing a major development in privacy-protective facial recognition technology. 

This critical system, to be rolled out in 2011 at OLG gaming sites across the province, embeds a design protocol based on Privacy by Design that will enable the OLG to better support its customers who have enrolled in a completely voluntary self-exclusion program, while protecting the data of all OLG customers.

Speaking today at the Toronto CIO Executive Summit, Commissioner Cavoukian said, "This collaboration is based on the application of an emerging technology called Biometric Encryption - which enables both the functionality of the system and privacy to be strongly respected." 

Only when the live facial biometric of a self-excluded user is detected as present, will the system alert the OLG and "unlock" the necessary information, for security to do a manual check. No single key can unlock the complete database of enrolled persons.

"Facial recognition technology will enhance OLG's current ability to spot self-excluded patrons who fail to stay away from gaming sites. This system helps to strengthen the deterrent for self-excluders to return to our gaming sites," said OLG's Marinelli.

The new system, developed in collaboration with Oakville, Ontario video surveillance and biometric firm iView Systems and University of Toronto researchers Professor Kostas Plataniotis and Dr. Karl Martin, is scheduled to be implemented by OLG in gaming sites across Ontario in 2011, starting with OLG Slots at Woodbine Racetrack.

"This is a technology that will offer dramatically improved privacy protection over simple facial recognition, without compromising any functionality, security or performance - the hallmarks of a Privacy by Design application," said Cavoukian. 

Privacy by Design ( PbD), a concept developed by Commissioner Cavoukian, prescribes that privacy be embedded directly into the design and operation, not only of various technologies, but also of business processes and networked infrastructure. Instead of treating privacy as an after-thought - "bolting it on after the fact" -   PbD  is proactive and preventative in nature. A landmark Resolution adopting PbD  as an "essential component of fundamental privacy protection" was recently approved by the Council of International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Jerusalem  at their annual conference this year.

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