Monthly Archives: September 2014

Walmart Privacy Invasion

Recently I was refused a purchase at Walmart in Winnipeg, on McPhillips St. in Garden City. I wanted to purchase a Fido SIM card only. I did not want to activate it, I only wanted to purchase it. The clerk at the electronics desk refused to sell it to me without seeing and recording my driver’s license. I refused, as I saw no need for my privacy to be compromised for a simple sales transaction.

I asked repeatedly why this is required. The first person had no idea why. A second said because it was policy. I asked repeatedly if it was a government or carrier requirement. He finally admitted it was not a government or carrier requirement, it was a Walmart policy. Those were his words, “A Walmart Policy.” He suggested I buy it elsewhere if I didn’t want to provide my driver’s license. Which I did. I purchased a SIM card direct from a Fido store. When I told them of the Walmart practice, they were surprised and said there is no such requirement from them or the government, and they were surprised that Walmart was requiring this.

I believe this to be a violation of my privacy, and PEPIDA. I have filed a complaint with PEPIDA in this regard. If the government or the carrier does not require my driver’s license to purchase a SIM card (which they don’t) there is no need for Walmart to demand it to make a purchase. In fact Fido doesn’t even request a driver’s license to activate a SIM card. I can tell you certainty that you don’t even need to provide an ID to activate a SIM card online or by phone, let alone to purchase one.

I believe this to a violation of my privacy. And I think this Walmart policy should be changed!

After filing a complaint with PEPIDA I wrote to Walmart’s privacy department and asked for their reply. I received an emailed back from a Dean Dolan, Vice-President, Associate General Counsel and Privacy Officer, Legal Department. In short he claims it is not a Walmart policy, and claims to be looking into this store policy at the Winnipeg location.

Personally I find it hard to believe that a single Walmart store in a chain like this, would be able to create rogue policies that contradict the store chain’s procedures. How would the employee make use of this data if it wasn’t a Walmart policy? I can only imagine there is provision in the Walmart computer system to make a record of this type? If not, it could only mean the employee is manually recording it for his own benefits or that stores own benefit. There is something seriously sketchy going on here with Walmart, either with this particular store, or with their official denial it’s not policy as the electronics department employees claimed.

This is simply my personal experience at Walmart in Winnipeg, and my opinions.

But I’d like to point out to people that you should not be a sheep when it comes to providing personal information. Being asked to literally hand over your driver’s license or medical card to a stranger simply cause they ASK is not something you have to do! Nor does a retail store have the right to record your driver’s license number or your medical number for your records. If they do, you are giving them permission out of ignorance. Under PEPIDA, all a retail store has the right to ask is to view a photo ID to prove it is you, or to visually confirm that the name and address you provided is correct. They have no right to handle your ID as if they are a police officer. It may be a store policy to confirm the name and address for some bogus fraud prevention refund policy. But they DO NOT have the right to record any identity information other than a name and address, and possibly a phone number.

Don’t be a mindless sheep in society, know your rights and question WHY they think they need this information from you. Ask to see their Privacy Policy that is required by PEPIDA to be available to a customer. Demand to see the manager and show you what information is being recorded about you.

And if you think your privacy is being abused, file a complaint with the Canadian government’s privacy department. It’s their job to look into these things and help keep your personal information safe.