What is it like to go to the mall to buy an outfit or simply relax and then find out that you have been registered and your data is stored, all without your knowledge? Canadians can tell you.
Cadillac Fairview has incorporated cameras into digital information kiosks at 12 malls in Canada and used facial recognition technology without the knowledge or consent of customers.
The company, one of the largest commercial real estate companies in North America, has produced 5 million images with “Small, unobtrusive rooms”, according to an investigation by privacy commissioners Alberta and BC
Data was collected secretly, but for “innocent” purposes
However, Cadillac Fairview said the images are collected to analyze the age and gender of buyers and not to identify people.
The images were deleted after being analyzed, but investigators found that the “sensitive biometric information” generated by them was stored in a centralized database by a third party.
Cadillac Fairview said it was unaware that the database existed, which commissioners say has exacerbated the risk of data being used by unauthorized parties or “malicious actors”.
“The lack of consent has been particularly worrying, given the sensitivity of biometric data, which is a unique and permanent feature of our body and a key to our identity,” said Daniel Therrien, Canada’s privacy commissioner.
Cadillac Fairview spokeswoman Jess Savage told the CBC that AVA technology does not store any images during the pilot program and is not able to recognize anyone.
“The five million representations mentioned in the report of the privacy commissioner’s office are not faces. These are sequences of numbers that the software uses to anonymously classify the age range and gender of buyers from the information the camera sees, ”she said.
“The OPC report concludes that there is no evidence that technologies were used to identify individuals.”
The situation was not ignored
The cameras at the Cadillac Fairview kiosks were dismantled immediately after the commissioners launched the investigation in 2018.
“It also deleted all information associated with the video analysis technology that is not required for potential litigation purposes and confirmed that it will not store or use this data for any other purpose. This includes the 5 million biometric representations of the faces of individual buyers, which he kept for no discernible reason, “said the commissioners.
Commissioners say they remain concerned that Cadillac Fairview has refused their request to commit to “express and meaningful consent” from buyers if it will use the technology in the future.