Calgary's Chinook Centre and Market Mall -- operated by Cadillac Fairview -- have been caught running background software that analysed the footage from the CCTVs in the malls' electronic directories to guess at the age and gender of visitors, without consent or notification.
The discovery was made when a visitor to Chinook Centre spotted a glitched-out electronic mall directory that was displaying a window with the output from the facial recognition software.
Sharon Polsky with the Privacy and Access Council of Canada said the general public would likely be shocked if they realized they were being surveilled with facial recognition technology.
"The people are not notified. They're not given an opportunity to opt in, much less opt out," Polsky said.
She said the most businesses usually do is post a sign saying a facility is under CCTV surveillance, but few go as far as spelling out to consumers what surveillance actually is taking place or undertake privacy impact assessments.
"There's no way to verify the alleged purpose, and they [could] start using it for other purposes. From a civil liberties perspective, from a privacy perspective, from the perspective of being able to exercise our rights, it's a huge concern," Polsky said.
At least two malls are using facial recognition technology to track shoppers' ages and genders without telling [Sarah Rieger/CBC]
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Dale Maharidge is a journalist and J-school professor who is dear old friends with the muckracking, outstanding political documentarian Laura Poitras. Jessica Bruder (previously) is a a writer and J-school prof who's best friends with Maharidge. When Laura Poitras was contacted by an NSA whistleblower who wanted to send her the leak of the century, she asked Maharidge for help finding a safe address for a postal delivery, and Maharidge gave her Bruder's Brooklyn apartment address. A few weeks later, Bruder came home from a work-trip to discover a box on her doormat with the return address of "B. Manning, 94-1054 Eleu St, Waipau, HI 96797." In it was a hard-drive. The story of what happened next is documented in a beautifully written, gripping new book: Snowden's Box: Trust in the Age of Surveillance.
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