Walmart is a multi-billion dollar conglomerate that has been a huge hit with Canadian shoppers ever since the Arkansas-based mega-chain moved into our great Dominion back in 1994. And little wonder: Walmart is known for both great value and for carrying a huge selection of products.
But recently, Linda Todd of Port Coquitlam, B.C., visited the Walmart located in nearby Maple Ridge. Like so many others in the store, she was on a du rigueur shopping trip. The last thing Linda expected to happen was to endure public humiliation thanks to an outrageous breach of her personal privacy. But that’s exactly what happened.
Indeed, as she was paying for her merchandise, Linda discovered, to her shock and horror, that a Walmart security camera was filming up her skirt. Even worse, the up-skirt camera image was being displayed on a monitor for all to see!
Linda says she was disgusted and humiliated by what had happened. But luckily she had the presence of mind to take a picture of the image being displayed on the monitor.
Linda says she asked the cashier why this impromptu peep show was taking place. She explained: “I was told that the new cameras are for anti-theft by showing what is on the bottom rack of the shopping buggies. I said ‘BUT IT'S LOOKING UP MY SKIRT!’ The anti-theft line was repeated as if nothing was wrong.”
Indeed, Linda notes that when she contacted Walmart Canada through Facebook Messenger, a company representative did get back to her but seemed to take a very nonchalant approach. “They gave me a file number and said they'll get back to me but it'll take awhile [and they] didn't give me any idea how long,” says Linda.
Frustrated by the lack of response, Linda paid a visit to the Maple Ridge RCMP detachment. “I showed them my pictures and told them what happened,” she says. “They couldn't believe what they were seeing! Clearly a violation!” Alas, the RCMP said they would not press criminal charges related to voyeurism – even though Linda says an officer admitted that had another shopper made such an indecent upskirt video, that person would definitely be criminally charged.
So a question arises: why the double standard? In any event, a constable took a statement and went over to the Walmart to speak to the manager. But the manager said it would take weeks for Walmart to offer Linda a response. But why is this even happening?
The camera lens seems to be a fisheye lens, meaning it shoots video both up and down. Yet, if this camera is to take a video of the lowest rack in a shopping cart, it should only be pointed down, not up. And why did the RCMP reckon this violation to be simply a civil as opposed to a criminal matter?
We reached out Oxana Iatsyk, the Privacy Officer at Walmart Canada. She denied the camera employs a fisheye lens, even though the evidence clearly shows the camera is capturing footage in all directions and the cashier had allegedly told Linda it was a fisheye lens. She said the camera simply malfunctioned and the problem has since been rectified.
But has it? And to date, Linda has yet to receive a letter of apology. Viewers, please note: have you visited a Walmart store and also experienced such a privacy breach? If so, please let us know and we shall investigate.