Information and Privacy Commissioner and Human Rights Commission call for ‘guardrails’ on AI use

They urged the Ontario government to develop binding rules to govern the public's use of AI

Information and Privacy Commissioner and Human Rights Commission call for ‘guardrails’ on AI use

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) have recently issued a joint statement urging the provincial government to develop and implement adequate guardrails on the public sector’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

The IPC and OHRC have joined forces to emphasize the importance of privacy rights and human rights in the context of AI technologies. The IPC and OHRC aim to enhance public understanding of privacy rights through collaboration.

While the IPC and OHRC acknowledged the 2021 Trustworthy AI Framework and related draft principles and guidelines proposed by the government, they stressed the need for binding rules to govern the public’s use of AI technologies. They asserted that these rules are essential for Ontario to fully reap the benefits of AI technologies “in a manner that is ethically responsible, accountable, sustainable, and supported by public trust.”

The IPC and OHRC underscored that AI technologies possess tremendous potential to help society improve health, education, public safety, and social and economic prosperity. However, these AI technologies still pose inherent risks when not effectively governed. AI often relies on vast amounts of personal data, which may be inadequately protected or collected unlawfully. Additionally, AI can perpetuate biases and result in disparate impacts, particularly affecting historically marginalized individuals and groups protected under human rights legislation.

The IPC and OHRC pointed out that AI technologies may create flawed or inaccurate content. The IPC and OHRC said that the potential harm and risks posed by AI technologies are intensified when there is limited engagement with affected parties regarding the development, acquisition, or deployment of AI technologies and the rules governing their use.

The federal government’s Bill C-27 includes the Artificial Intelligence Data Act. However, the IPC and OHRC said it would not cover the Ontario public sector and underscored why Ontario must develop its framework.

In its joint statement, the IPC and the OHRC appealed “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 OHRC are committed 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.

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