Cellphone tracking has been used in at least 1 Canadian mall, former employee says

August 8, 2018

A Canadian real estate company already under investigation for using facial recognition technology in malls may also be tracking the movement of shoppers using mobile phones. 

A former employee of Cadillac Fairview told CBC News he was aware of at least one of the company's Canadian shopping centres that had a system installed to track cellphone movement throughout the mall to collect market research data.

CBC News has agreed to keep the former employee's identity confidential. He worked directly for Cadillac Fairview in security for more than three years, and was responsible for providing access for the system's installation in 2016.

He said he was told the system would monitor and note where each device, such as a cellphone, went within the centre, and how long it remained in any particular location, "whether you were just walking through the mall or whether you're spending hours there dropping thousands upon thousands of dollars."

Real estate company refused to confirm

Cadillac Fairview did not respond to repeated questions from CBC News about whether this system is still installed in its shopping centres and where it is used in Canada.

The company's online privacy policy says some properties are equipped with sensors and cameras used to monitor foot traffic patterns that could predict "demographic information" about visitors during a shopping centre visit.


It also mentions tracking foot traffic using information such as a MAC address — a unique number that identifies any device capable of connecting to Wi-Fi.

Read more: Cellphone tracking has been used in at least 1 Canadian mall, former employee says