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‘Our strata is creepy with the surveillance footage,’ says Burnaby condo resident

Strata disciplined for allegedly viewing residents in a hot tub
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(iStock photo)

A resident of a Metrotown condo in Burnaby is considering filing her own complaint after B.C.’s privacy commissioner told a different strata corporation to stop using security surveillance system data for purposes other than which it was collected, such as viewing people in a hot tub.
The strata was also told that some data collected through its door key fob system was inappropriate.

"I find the degree of intrusiveness is high since the cameras run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” wrote Lisa Siew, an Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner adjudicator, in a June 29 decision. “The continuous collection of this information can have personal and social effects on individuals while they are under surveillance.”

“The organization appears to be collecting personal information from cameras hidden throughout the interior and exterior of the building and it uses personal information for undisclosed reasons,” the decision said.  

“I read this and felt like they were talking about my building’s strata,” said Darla, who didn’t want her real name used in fear of repercussions from her strata. “I’ve complained over and over about this because our strata is creepy with the surveillance footage. Only a select few can see it and sometimes they make comments to people about things residents have been doing in the building that they would only know by watching the footage. That’s just not right. This footage is supposed to be used in case of a break-in or something like that. I don’t want strata creeps watching me go up and down the elevator when I’m in my gym clothes and possibly recording it and sharing it around.”

Siew approved collection and use of personal information for enforcement of garbage disposal bylaws, for prevention and investigation of property damage in the parkade area and to create and update a key-fob inventory.

Apart from those points, Siew told the strata to stop collecting and using personal information through its video surveillance system, to stop collecting and using personal information through its key fob monitoring system and recommended the strata provide owners and residents with a complete list of all the video camera locations.

A resident complained the strata had violated the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) by inappropriately collecting, using and disclosing personal information obtained through the systems. 

The complainant also alleged the strata was not adequately protecting the personal information.

The complainant alleged the strata “recklessly released the personal information including contact information and signatures of all lot owners without consent when including the list of people who attended an AGM.”

Siew stressed PIPA doesn’t explicitly prohibit the use of video surveillance by strata corporations, but because of their “arbitrary invasiveness,” such systems should only be used after less privacy-intrusive measures have failed to address a serious problem.

The strata had investigated the resident for a rule violation. During that investigation, video surveillance footage of the complainant and his guests was allegedly shared with others.

He further alleged strata council members and others were viewing video surveillance footage of individuals in the hot tub.

He said he was actively monitored in real time and that the strata wanted to use cameras to monitor traffic in the garage and to catch people discarding cigarette butts.

  • With additional reporting by Jeremy Hainsworth