Every shop you search, I’ll be watching you

To the tune of the popular pop hit, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, we join Garry Marx’s word analysis, which sounds as frightening as it is simple.


“Every breath you take (breath analyser)

Every move you make (motion detector)

Every bond you break (polygraph-lie detector) 

Every step you take (electronic anklet)

Every single day (continuous monitoring)

Every word you say (bugs, wiretaps, mics)

Every night you stay (light amplifier)

Every vow you break (voice stress analysis)

Every smile you fake (brain wave analysis)

Every claim you stake (computer watching)

I’ll be watching you (video surveillance)”



What would today’s updated version sound like? Let us add a line. 

…Every shop you search, I’ll get your biometric image, I’ll be researching you.

Why is that? Because on October 29, 2020, the OIPC released the long anticipated joint investigation report into the use of facial recognition software at Canadian shopping malls including one in Calgary, Alberta. The results, alarming: 5 Million shoppers images were captured without their knowledge or consent. 


The company responsible, Cadillac Fairview, wanted to know the age and gender of shoppers, not their identity, however, this was not the way to do it, nor were the insufficient decals placed on shopping mall entrances enough to have meaningful consent.


The investigation also found that:

  • Facial recognition software was used to generate additional personal information about individual shoppers, including estimated age and gender.
  • While the images were deleted, investigators found that the sensitive biometric information generated from the images was being stored in a centralized database by a third party.
  • Cadillac Fairview stated that it was unaware that the database of biometric information existed, which compounded the risk of potential use by unauthorized parties or, in the case of a data breach, by malicious actors”.

In summary, “Shoppers had no reason to expect their image was being collected by an inconspicuous camera, or that it would be used, with facial recognition technology, for analysis,” says Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien. “The lack of meaningful consent was particularly concerning given the sensitivity of biometric data, which is a unique and permanent characteristic of our body and a key to our identity.  In response to the investigation, the company removed the cameras from its digital directory kiosks. It has no current plans to reinstall the technology. It has also deleted all information associated with the video analytics technology that is not required for legal purposes, and confirmed it will not retain or use such data for any other purpose. This includes the more than 5 million biometric representations of individual shoppers’ faces, which it had retained for no discernable reason”. Source 

Related Documents from the OIPC website

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