Marketing & Merchandising | Privacy

Privacy Commissioners release findings on Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) and facial recognition technology used in malls

October 29, 2020

Feb 2021 update: Privacy Commissioners release findings on facial recognition in Clearview AI
Oct 2021 update: Privacy-related developments concerning the use of camera-based technology

On October 29, 2020, the federal, B.C. and Alberta Privacy Commissioners released findings on commercial real estate company Cadillac Fairview’s gathering of individuals’ face data in malls across Canada.

The Commissioners’ discussion of how Cadillac Fairview and its third party service provider were collecting and using sensitive biometric personal information, and the efforts Cadillac Fairview did make to secure consent that fell short, are useful context for retailers using or planning to use AVA and/or facial recognition technology. It should also be noted that privacy regimes governing private sector personal information are in various stages of review and reform in Canada. There may be more stringent legislation in some regions in the short to medium term.  View findings.

For context on AVA, the Ontario Privacy Commissioner released a 2011 White Paper describing AVA technologies as pattern detection software that did not violate individual privacy. Potential retail AVA uses include foot traffic counting and custom marketing, e.g. digital signage that reacts to consumers passing by with custom ads. View AVA White Paper.

For more information, see RCC’s resources on Retail Privacy and Data.

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