Canadian retailers not following store-camera privacy laws: Study

Security camera. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI AGENCY FILE PHOTO)

Security camera. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI AGENCY FILE PHOTO)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:07 PM ET

Major Canadian retailers are violating federal privacy laws when it comes to their in-store cameras, a new study has found.

In-store cameras should be accompanied by signs telling shoppers they are being recorded, why, and how they can obtain a copy of the footage, according to federal privacy laws.

But when researchers from the University of Toronto visited two major shopping malls, they found that not one video camera had the proper signage required by the Personal Information, Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

In fact, only 30% of stores with cameras in Toronto's Eaton Centre or Mississauga's Square One had any signage at all alerting customers to security cameras.

Square One said it can't speak for its retailers, but says all its mall cameras have signs and it has a procedure in place to deal with requests to access footage.

The Eaton Centre did not return QMI Agency's request for comment.

"The findings of this study raise disturbing implications, as both video surveillance penetration and capabilities are expanding rapidly without appropriate public understanding, transparency, oversight or accountability," the study's authors wrote.

"Individuals who wish to participate fully in society have no choice but to be under near-constant surveillance, while the laws intended to limit the scope of that surveillance are so far largely ignored with impunity."

If the stores won't keep people informed about surveillance, the study's authors say, people can inform each other.

The research team, led by Andrew Clement, has designed a crowdsourced mapping app called SurveillanceWatch to help consumers track when and where they are being watched.