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Cadillac Fairview used facial recognition technology in info kiosks

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in Ottawa has released the results of an investigation into shopping mall operator Cadillac Fairview which found that embedded cameras in information kiosks at 12 of the company’s malls nationally used facial recognition technology on users without their knowledge or consent. The cameras captured approximately five million images, according to the report. The investigation was conducted in collaboration with the Alberta and BC Privacy Commissioners.

The intent, according to the company, was to analyze the age and gender of users and not to identify individuals. Cadillac Fairview also asserted that users were made aware of the activity via decals on shopping mall entry doors that referred to their privacy policy. The commissioners determined this to be insufficient notification.

Cadillac Fairview also asserted that it did not collect personal information and did not store the images after analysis. However, the Commissioners found that Cadillac Fairview did collect personal information, and contravened privacy laws by failing to obtain consent, and also used video analytics to collect and analyze the biometric information of customers by a third party. The company has now removed the cameras and deleted any existing data, it has stated.

“Shoppers had no reason to expect their image was being collected by an inconspicuous camera, or that it would be used, with facial recognition technology, for analysis,” said Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien. “The lack of meaningful consent was particularly concerning given the sensitivity of biometric data, which is a unique and permanent characteristic of our body and a key to our identity.”

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