Store stops practice of posting pictures of suspected shoplifters

Early resolved case summary #2015-01

Lessons Learned

  • Publicly displaying, without consent, photographs of individuals recorded on a business’ video surveillance system for the purposes of identifying alleged shoplifters is not permissible under PIPEDA.

Complaint summary

A regular customer of a department store noticed a large bulletin board near an entrance to the store. On the board were photographs of several people. A caption asked customers to report to the store manager if they had any information about the pictured individuals.

The customer then told a store manager that she did not believe it was appropriate for people’s photographs to be displayed in such a manner. When asked, the manager would not confirm to the customer if the pictured individuals had been caught stealing from the store or not.

She then complained to our Office about the store’s practice. She stated that the store should not display the pictures of individuals as a means to catch alleged criminals.

When we contacted the store, it reported to us that police and the store’s legal counsel had said that the store could post pictures taken from video surveillance of individuals who were allegedly shoplifters. We disagreed with that advice.


We explained that, pursuant to PIPEDA, the individuals’ photographs constituted their personal information and could not be publicly disclosed in such a manner without their consent. Consequently, the store agreed to remove the pictures from the bulletin board and discontinue its practice. Instead, it agreed to deal with the police on such matters in the future.

The complainant said that she was satisfied with the outcome.

July 2015

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