On September 1, 2020, the Citizen Lab (Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy) and the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the University of Toronto published the following report: To Surveil and Predict: A Human Rights Analysis of Algorithmic Policing in Canada. The report was the result of a joint research investigation into the use of algorithmic policing technologies by police services across Canada, and provided factual findings in addition to a comprehensive legal and policy analysis of the use of algorithmic policing technologies, based in international and Canadian human rights and constitutional law.
To accompany the report, we published an FAQ explainer summarizing key points, and a fact sheet featuring our investigative findings of what specific algorithmic policing technologies are being used by which specific law enforcement agencies in Canada.
As part of our research methodology, the Citizen Lab and the IHRP submitted freedom of information (FOI) requests to various federal and provincial departments and ministries, and to a number of municipal police services, in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. These requests were submitted under the federal Access to Information Act (RSC, 1985, c A-1) and under each province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or municipal equivalents where applicable.
Here, we provide all of the records that we received through the above research process. Some of these records arrived too late to be incorporated into our To Surveil and Predict report, and may offer new or greater details not previously written on publicly. Researchers, journalists, and others who are involved in algorithmic policing issues may also find additional details or points of interest in records that were included in our report, but which were not necessarily covered in depth or in their entirety.
The Citizen Lab and the IHRP sent an identical request to all agencies and departments, subject to subsequent modification or narrowing in negotiations with access-to-information officers. The template text of that request is available here, and is reproduced in Appendix A of To Surveil and Predict (on pages 178-180). The time period covered by these initial requests is January 1, 2013 to November 1, 2018. However, many of the requests were narrowed to more recent years in the course of negotiations and re-scoping. Along with the records themselves, we have included accompanying partial disclosure letters, which indicate where responsive records have been redacted or withheld, and which cite the specific statutory exemptions considered applicable.
The discrepancy between the number of requests we submitted and the records received reflects the difficulties of Canada’s FOI regime. Barriers such as exorbitant processing fees, long delays, and statutory exemptions from disclosing records suggest that much more information about algorithmic policing in Canada can and should be publicly available, but is currently not. For more details about our experience with the freedom-of-information request process, and associated challenges and limitations, please see Section 1.2.1 (“Data Collection”) under the Methodology section of To Surveil and Predict (on pages 11-13), and Section 4.4 (“Limitations of Research Findings”) (on pages 66-67).
This page is a living document. We may follow up or re-submit earlier requests whose trails died or were abandoned for various reasons, and will add new records to this page if and when any arrive.
If you have questions or comments regarding this resource, please contact: Cynthia [at] citizenlab [dot] ca
Living List of Records
(Last Updated: 27 September 2020)
Department of Justice
- A-2018-00645 (6 pages) (Informal / ‘piggyback’ ATIP) “Briefing Notes for May 2018: 2018-005848 Memorandum to the Deputy Minister – Artificial Intelligence and other Technologies”
Public Prosecution Service of Canada
Public Safety Canada
- A-2016-00387(117 pages) (Informal / ‘piggyback’ ATIP) Original request: “Any briefing notes, memos, powerpoint presentations regarding the use of artificial intelligence for criminal investigations. Timeline: January 1, 2015 to present (February 20, 2017).” Final request: “Any briefing notes, memos, PowerPoint presentations regarding the use of machine learning or data analytics, by criminals or for investigations into criminal matters. Timeline: January 1, 2015 to present (February 20, 2017).”
AB Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General
- 2018-G-1111 (11 pages) (Records and partial disclosure letter. Mailing address redacted)
Calgary Police Service
BC Ministry of the Attorney General
BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Vancouver Police Department
- 18-3224A_1 (50 pages)
- 18-3224A_2 (7 pages)
- 18-3224A_3 (10 pages)
- Senate Committee Presentation (22 pages)