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Questions raised over retailers who shame shoplifters with photos

A Newfoundland sex store's social-media shaming of an alleged shoplifter has raised ethical questions over retailers who display security footage to catch thieves.


December 14, 2018
By The Canadian Press


Provincial privacy commissioner Donovan Molloy has reportedly encouraged businesses to take the footage to police, rather than share images of people who have not been found guilty of a crime.

Privacy lawyer David Fraser said reasonable, ethical judgement should be used in these cases, especially online where images can spread quickly.

Fraser said taking footage to law enforcement is probably legally safer than businesses sharing it on their own, but pointed out police can also get caught up in the grey area.

A woman recently sued Ottawa Police Services Board and Ottawa Capital Area Crime Stoppers for defamation and negligence over shared mall security footage alleging she “stole” a purse when she had actually taken it to a lost and found.

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In 2015, a store stopped posting bulletin board pictures of suspected shoplifters after Canada’s privacy commissioner found the practice “not permissible” under the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, according to the commissioner’s website.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2018