Real estate company Mall has collected 5 million images from buyers, according to privacy watchdogs

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The real estate company behind some of Canada’s most popular malls has integrated cameras inside its digital information kiosks at 12 malls across Canada to collect millions of images – and has used facial recognition technology without customers’ knowledge or consent – according to a new investigation by the federal privacy commissioners of Alberta and British Columbia.“Buyers had no reason to expect their image to be collected by a discreet camera, or that it would be used, along with facial recognition technology, for analysis,” the Federal Commissioner told protection of privacy Daniel Therrien in a press release.

“The lack of meaningful consent was of particular concern given the sensitivity of biometric data, which is a unique and permanent feature of our body and a key to our identity. ”

Cadillac Fairview said it uses facial recognition software to track the age and gender of shoppers and argued shoppers were notified of the activity through stickers placed on the entrance doors of the centers commercial and referring to the privacy policy of the company.

But the commissioners said it was not enough.

Privacy watchdogs also found that Cadillac Fairview violated privacy laws by failing to “obtain meaningful consent” when it collected five million images with discreet cameras.

Cadillac Fairview also used video analytics to collect and analyze sensitive customer biometric information, investigators said.

Commissioners dissatisfied with CF response

Watchdogs said facial recognition software was used to generate additional personal information about individual buyers, including estimated ages and genders. The images were later deleted – but investigators found that sensitive biometric information generated from the images was stored in a centralized database by a third party.

“Cadillac Fairview said it was unaware of the existence of the biometric information database, which increased the risk of potential use by unauthorized parties or, in the event of a data breach, by malicious actors.” , indicates the investigation report.

This directory from Chinook Center shopping mall in South Calgary uses facial recognition technology. (Sarah Rieger / CBC)

The company said it suspended its use of the cameras in 2018 when provincial and federal privacy commissioners launched their investigation following a CBC investigation.

The three commissioners said the company has indicated that it does not currently have plans to reinstall the technology and has removed all information associated with the video analytics technology that is not needed for potential litigation purposes. Cadillac Fairview has also informed the auditors that it will not keep or use this data for other purposes.

“Commissioners remain concerned that Cadillac Fairview has denied their request to commit to ensuring that express and meaningful consent is obtained from buyers if it chooses to redeploy the technology in the future,” the statement said. commissioners.

The survey found that the technology was used in five provinces in the following shopping centers:

  • CF Market Mall (Alberta)
  • CF Chinook Centre (Alberta)
  • CF Richmond Center (British Columbia)
  • CF Pacific Center (British Columbia)
  • CF Polo Park (Manitoba)
  • CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Ontario)
  • CF Sherway Gardens (Ontario)
  • CF Lime Ridge (Ontario)
  • CF Fairview Mall (Ontario)
  • CF Markville Mall (Ontario)
  • CF Galeries d’Anjou (Quebec)
  • CF Carrefour Laval (Quebec)

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