Connect with us

Real eState

Mall real estate company collected 5 million images of shoppers, say privacy watchdogs – CBC.ca

Published

 on


The real estate company behind some of Canada’s most popular shopping centres embedded cameras inside its digital information kiosks at 12 shopping malls across Canada to collect millions of images — and used facial recognition technology without customers’ knowledge or consent — according to a new investigation by the federal, Alberta and B.C. privacy commissioners.

“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,” said federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien in a statement.

“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.”

According to the report, the technology Cadillac Fairview used — known as “anonymous video analytics” or AVA— took temporary digital images of the faces of individuals within the field of view of the camera in the directory.

It then used facial recognition software to convert those images into biometric numerical representations of individual faces  about five million images in total.

That sensitive personal information could be used to identify individuals based on their unique facial features, said the commissioners.

The report said the company also kept about 16 hours of video recordings, including some audio, which it had captured during a testing phase at two malls.

Cadillac Fairview said it used AVA technology to assess foot traffic and track shoppers’ ages and genders — but not to identify individuals. The company also argued shoppers were made aware of the activity through decals it had placed on shopping mall entry doors that referred to Cadillac Fairview’s privacy policy.

But the commissioners said that wasn’t good enough and did not meet the standard for meaningful consent. 

“An individual would not, while using a mall directory, reasonably expect their image to be captured and used to create a biometric representation of their face, which is sensitive personal information, or for that biometric information to be used to guess their approximate age and gender,” they wrote.

The privacy watchdogs also took issue with the way the five million images were stored.

Cadillac Fairview said the images taken by camera were briefly analyzed then deleted — but investigators found that the sensitive biometric information generated from the images was being stored in a centralized database by a third party.

“Our investigation revealed that [Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited’s] AVA service provider had collected and stored approximately five million numerical representations of faces on CFCL’s behalf, on a decommissioned server, for no apparent purpose and with no justification,” notes the investigation.

“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.”

Company says technology couldn’t identify people

The company said the technology was used to detect the presence of a human face and assign it “within milliseconds” to an approximate age and gender category and maintains it did not store any images during the pilot program and was not capable of recognizing anyone. 

This directory in Chinook Centre mall in south Calgary uses facial recognition technology. (Sarah Rieger/CBC)

“The five million representations referenced in the [Office of the Privacy Commissioner] report are not faces.These are sequences of numbers the software uses to anonymously categorize the age range and gender of shoppers in the camera’s view,” Cadillac Fairview spokesperson Jess Savage said in a statement to CBC News.

“The OPC report concludes there is no evidence that CF was using any technology for the purpose of identifying individuals.”

CF suspended its use of cameras back in 2018 when provincial and federal privacy commissioners launched their probe following a CBC investigation.

In a statement to CBC News on Thursday, the company said it has no plans to reinstall the cameras.

“We subsequently deactivated directory cameras and the numerical representations and associated data have since been deleted,” said Savage.

“We take the concerns of our visitors seriously and wanted to ensure they were acknowledged and addressed.”

However, the three commissioners said they have concerns about the company’s plans going forward.

“The commissioners remain concerned that Cadillac Fairview refused their request that it commit to ensuring express, meaningful consent is obtained from shoppers should it choose to redeploy the technology in the future,” said the commissioners’ statement.

Savage said Cadillac Fairview accepted and implemented all the recommendations “with the exception of those that speculate about hypothetical future uses of similar technology.”

The investigation found the technology was used in five provinces at the following malls:

  • CF Market Mall (Calgary)
  • CF Chinook Centre (Calgary)
  • CF Richmond Centre (Richmond, B.C.)
  • CF Pacific Centre (Vancouver)
  • CF Polo Park (Winnipeg)
  • CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Toronto)
  • CF Sherway Gardens (Toronto)
  • CF Fairview Mall (Toronto)
  • CF Lime Ridge (Hamilton, Ont.)
  • CF Markville Mall (Markham, Ont.)
  • CF Galeries d’Anjou (Montreal)
  • CF Carrefour Laval (Laval, Que.)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Real eState

RioCan cuts payouts as COVID-19 challenges outlook for retail real estate – BayToday

Published

 on


TORONTO — RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust says it is cutting its payouts to unitholders by a third as the COVID-19 pandemic creates an uncertain future for shopping centres. 

RioCan, which counts Dollarama, Canadian Tire and Costco among its tenants, says that it is slashing its monthly payout to eight cents per unit, down from 12 cents.

The company says the cut will save about $152 million per year, which the company will use for expanding investments in residential real estate, as well as paying down debt and buybacks. 

RioCan says the ongoing uncertainty from the pandemic influenced the board’s decision to make the cut, which starts with the February payout for January 2021.

The decision comes after RioCan’s third quarter report said it had collected about 93 per cent of rent billed during the quarter, but that 22 per cent of its tenants were potentially vulnerable to the pandemic, such as movie theatres, gyms and sit-down restaurants.

Chief executive Edward Sonshine says RioCan still has a well-positioned portfolio and solid tenants, and the new baseline for payouts will help the REIT’s transformation, as it plans to move out of malls that house hard-hit fashion retailers.

“As RioCan continues to navigate through the uncertain retail landscape created by the COVID-19 pandemic and faces an unknown length and breadth of closures, the board has taken the prudent action of reducing our distribution,” Sonshine said in a statement. 

“A more conservative payout ratio is important in this undeniably challenging environment.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX: REI.UN)

The Canadian Press

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Real eState

COVID as catalyst: How real estate in Ottawa changed in 2020 – TheChronicleHerald.ca

Published

 on


When the number of residential house sales plummeted more than 50 per cent year over year last April and May, you could be forgiven for concluding this was going to be a very ugly year for thousands of Ottawa brokers.

Because price hikes slowed dramatically at the same time, you might also have seen a sliver of hope for first-time home buyers, assuming they hadn’t been punched in the gut by COVID-inspired economic lockdowns.

Remarkably, it turned out to be a very good year for brokers and a rather stressful one for anyone trying to find a house to buy at prices they once believed were reasonable.  This according to the latest data published Thursday by the Ottawa Real Estate Board.

“The number of our year to date transactions are now on par with 2019,” board president Deb Burgoyne said. “If we had more supply, sales would be even higher.”

Indeed, realtors across greater Ottawa — which includes towns within commuting distance — sold nearly 13,800 properties during the 11 months ended Nov. 30. That was up about two per cent from the same period last year.

Perhaps the bigger surprise was the 19.6 per cent surge in the price paid for residential properties, which averaged $581,100 during this period. It was a similar pattern for condominiums, which changed hands at an average $361,700 year to date, up 19 per cent against the comparable stretch in 2019.

Multiple catalysts were at play, including historically low interest rates (making for relatively inexpensive mortgages), a shortage of listings and, not least, a rush by homeowners for more space in the era of COVID-19 — whether in the form of larger home offices or physical acreage in outlying areas.

The play for more space can be seen in the detailed sales data for greater Ottawa. Year to date realtors have sold about 2,100 residential properties in 15 nearby towns for an average of $450,300. While volumes are just a bit ahead of where they were last year, prices have surged nearly 25 per cent.

This compares with a 19 per cent price gain to nearly $640,000 for residential properties inside the City of Ottawa.

Of the eight towns recording the largest price gains year to date, four were in the west (Pakenham, Braeside-McNab, Mississippi Mills and Arnprior), while two each were east (Russell, Rockland) and south (Kemptville East and Beckwith Township). Residential properties in Pakenham jumped most in price (37 per cent to nearly $500,000). Average sale prices within this group ranged from nearly $400,000 for Arnprior properties to $596,000 for rural properties in Beckwith Township, which is between Carleton Place and Smiths Falls.

The hunt for greater space was also evident within the City of Ottawa, where four of the top five real estate districts ranked by price growth were semi-rural. These included: Bells Corners and area (average price year to date was $586,000 — up 38 per cent); Greely ($704,000 — a gain of 31 per cent); Manotick and area ($866,000 — up 27.5 per cent) and Carp and area ($743,000 — a jump of 25.5 per cent).

Indeed, all rural and semi-rural districts saw house price gains greater than those posted by brokers within the city, with the exception of Dunrobin, where 158 residences were sold for an average $539,000. That represented a relatively modest gain of less than 12 per cent compared to the first 11 months of 2019.

In most other years, of course, that would have been something for sellers to celebrate.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Real eState

COVID as catalyst: How real estate in Ottawa changed in 2020 – TheChronicleHerald.ca

Published

 on


When the number of residential house sales plummeted more than 50 per cent year over year last April and May, you could be forgiven for concluding this was going to be a very ugly year for thousands of Ottawa brokers.

Because price hikes slowed dramatically at the same time, you might also have seen a sliver of hope for first-time home buyers, assuming they hadn’t been punched in the gut by COVID-inspired economic lockdowns.

Remarkably, it turned out to be a very good year for brokers and a rather stressful one for anyone trying to find a house to buy at prices they once believed were reasonable.  This according to the latest data published Thursday by the Ottawa Real Estate Board.

“The number of our year to date transactions are now on par with 2019,” board president Deb Burgoyne said. “If we had more supply, sales would be even higher.”

Indeed, realtors across greater Ottawa — which includes towns within commuting distance — sold nearly 13,800 properties during the 11 months ended Nov. 30. That was up about two per cent from the same period last year.

Perhaps the bigger surprise was the 19.6 per cent surge in the price paid for residential properties, which averaged $581,100 during this period. It was a similar pattern for condominiums, which changed hands at an average $361,700 year to date, up 19 per cent against the comparable stretch in 2019.

Multiple catalysts were at play, including historically low interest rates (making for relatively inexpensive mortgages), a shortage of listings and, not least, a rush by homeowners for more space in the era of COVID-19 — whether in the form of larger home offices or physical acreage in outlying areas.

The play for more space can be seen in the detailed sales data for greater Ottawa. Year to date realtors have sold about 2,100 residential properties in 15 nearby towns for an average of $450,300. While volumes are just a bit ahead of where they were last year, prices have surged nearly 25 per cent.

This compares with a 19 per cent price gain to nearly $640,000 for residential properties inside the City of Ottawa.

Of the eight towns recording the largest price gains year to date, four were in the west (Pakenham, Braeside-McNab, Mississippi Mills and Arnprior), while two each were east (Russell, Rockland) and south (Kemptville East and Beckwith Township). Residential properties in Pakenham jumped most in price (37 per cent to nearly $500,000). Average sale prices within this group ranged from nearly $400,000 for Arnprior properties to $596,000 for rural properties in Beckwith Township, which is between Carleton Place and Smiths Falls.

The hunt for greater space was also evident within the City of Ottawa, where four of the top five real estate districts ranked by price growth were semi-rural. These included: Bells Corners and area (average price year to date was $586,000 — up 38 per cent); Greely ($704,000 — a gain of 31 per cent); Manotick and area ($866,000 — up 27.5 per cent) and Carp and area ($743,000 — a jump of 25.5 per cent).

Indeed, all rural and semi-rural districts saw house price gains greater than those posted by brokers within the city, with the exception of Dunrobin, where 158 residences were sold for an average $539,000. That represented a relatively modest gain of less than 12 per cent compared to the first 11 months of 2019.

In most other years, of course, that would have been something for sellers to celebrate.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending