skip to main content
Dec 10, 2018

Ethics by design: Canada adopts AI ethics and data protection declaration

By Lisa R. Lifshitz
Canadian Lawyer Online — IT Girl Column View original

Canada has added its voice to the global chorus of data protection and privacy commissioners calling for fairness, transparency and privacy by design as “core values” in the development of artificial intelligence by co-sponsoring the Declaration on Ethics and Data Protection in Artificial Intelligence.

The declaration was adopted by the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners on Oct. 23.

The declaration, co-written by data protection and privacy commissioners from France, the European Union and Italy, was signed by the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner and its provincial counterpart from Quebec in addition to 12 other regulators from Argentina, Hong Kong, Mexico and the Philippines.

While lauding the significant benefits that AI systems could offer for users and society in general, the preamble to the declaration acknowledged that some data sets used to train machine learning-based and artificial intelligence systems have been found to contain inherent bias resulting in decisions that can unfairly discriminate against certain individuals or groups.  

The preamble also noted that the decisions of AI systems decisions that cannot be explained also raise fundamental questions of accountability, not only for privacy and data protection law but also for liability in the event of errors and harm to individuals. Given ongoing concerns about the possible malicious use of AI and related risks to privacy and data protection, the IDPPC felt it necessary to urge the adoption of international standards and created the declaration to endorse some key “guiding principles” as its core values to preserve human rights in the development of AI. 

To read Lisa Lifshtiz's complete IT Girl column, visit Canadian Lawyer Online.