TORONTO, May 25, 2023 – The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recognize their complementary mandates to uphold the fundamental worth and dignity of Ontarians by promoting, protecting, and advancing their human rights, including their right to privacy. Accordingly, the IPC and the OHRC announce their collaboration to provide Ontarians with a better understanding of their privacy rights concerning artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, through a broader human rights approach.
The IPC and OHRC are issuing this joint statement to urge the Ontario government to develop and implement effective guardrails on the public sector’s use of AI technologies.
Although we commend the foundation proposed in the 2021 Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (AI) Framework, and related draft principles and guidelines, it is urgent for the government to establish a binding set of robust and granular rules for public sector use of AI technologies. Such rules are necessary for Ontario to fully reap the benefits of AI technologies in a manner that is ethically responsible, accountable, sustainable, and supported by public trust.
AI technologies have great potential to benefit society in terms of improved health, education, public safety, and social and economic prosperity. However, they have also been shown to be unsafe when not effectively governed. They often rely on immense volumes of personal information, which may not be properly protected, and the initial collection of this information may not always be lawful. Even where information has been de-identified, AI technologies can perpetuate biases and lead to disparate impacts on Ontarians. This is particularly true for historically marginalized individuals or groups, including those protected under human rights legislation.
AI technologies can support the drawing of inferences and decision-making processes that are opaque or difficult to understand or challenge. The use of AI technologies, especially generative AI systems, may create flawed or inaccurate content that raises concerns about how government can ensure accountability for their use. All of those risks are compounded where AI technologies are not adequately evaluated before and after their adoption, including the risks of ingraining or amplifying historical systemic biases or discriminatory practices. The harms presented by those risks can be more damaging without meaningful engagement with potentially affected parties about whether to develop, acquire, or deploy these technologies, including what rules should govern their use.
Jurisdictions worldwide are working to effectively regulate the responsible use of AI technologies, including the European Union’s proposed Artificial Intelligence Act and the federal government’s Bill C-27, which includes the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act. These recent legislative proposals would not cover the Ontario public sector and underscore why Ontario must develop its own framework.
The IPC and OHRC appeal to the Ontario government to continue to show leadership by establishing clear and binding guardrails around the public sector’s use of AI technologies. Such guardrails must effectively address safety, privacy, accountability, transparency (including access to information), and human rights.
The IPC and the OHRC commit to coordinating with one another to identify and promote guiding principles and leading practices associated with building a responsible, safe, and trustworthy AI framework that upholds human dignity as a fundamental value. We also commit to being ready to engage with the Ontario government in any consultations pertaining to the development and establishment of such a framework.
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
Ontario Human Rights Commission
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