Privacy commissioner launches probe into use of facial recognition technology in malls
The federal privacy commissioner has opened an investigation into Cadillac Fairview—the parent company of nearly two dozen malls across Canada—over its use of facial recognition technology inside directories.
The probe comes following several media reports about digital directories, or information kiosks inside malls being equipped with unmarked cameras that are connected to facial recognition software, installed to monitor visitor demographics.
The software was exposed after a user posted an image to social news aggregator Reddit of a browser window that appears to have been accidentally left open on one of the mall's digital directories.
Across Canada, Cadillac Fairview owns 23 shopping centres.
The commissioner's office says in the statement announcing the investigation that the company has stated it’s using the technology to monitor traffic, and the age and gender of shoppers, and has stated it is not capturing footage of people.
"The investigation will examine whether the organization’s practices are in compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada’s federal private sector privacy law," the statement said.
Commissioner Daniel Therrien’s office will work with the Alberta information and Privacy Commissioner, who has also opened an investigation into this matter.
With files from CTV Calgary's Brenna Rose and Ryan White