Canada: Beacon Technology: A Primer For Retailers

Beacon Technology or Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons (collectively, "Beacons") are becoming a major technological advancement available to Canadian retailers. Industry experts believe that Beacons, which are already in use by some retailers, sports arenas, hotel chains and museums, will potentially revolutionize the customer experience. Beacons are essentially a form of mobile marketing that allows retailers and direct to consumer manufacturers to communicate and send offers to a customer's smartphone or mobile device. They allow businesses to effectively target their customers and provide invaluable analytics about customer behavior.

However, while they provide useful information for consumers, Beacons have raised privacy concerns among consumer advocates, in particular regarding how Beacons are used to collect, use, and disclose personal information. This post focuses on dispelling some of the myths behind Beacons and discusses business considerations related to ensuring compliance with privacy legislation in Canada.

What are Beacons?

A beacons is a small battery powered transmitter that broadcasts by way of a Bluetooth low energy antenna. The Beacon transmits a unique ID number that is read by a corresponding app on a consumer's mobile device. The app then looks up the location of the Beacon that sent the ID number and pushes notifications to the consumer's mobile device based on his or her location.

Under the typical set up, Beacons themselves do not collect data. The Beacons simply transmit the unique identifier. The app on the customer's mobile device receives the information from the Beacon and is the actual conduit through which data about customers is collected.

How are Beacons used by retailers?

While Beacons can be used in a variety of ways, two features and potential uses of particular interest to retailers are that they allow retailers to: (i) track and pinpoint where consumers spend most of their time in stores; and (ii) provide product information to a consumer at the time that the consumer is actively interacting with a product.

Legal Considerations for Retailers Using Beacons

Privacy Considerations

As Beacon technology (specifically, the app used to connect to the Beacon) can collect consumer data, retailers using this technology must ensure they obtain informed consents which may be obtained through the acceptance of the app's terms of use or privacy policy (the "Terms"). However, for the Terms to constitute informed consent, the Terms must meet the following guidelines:

  1. Be Transparent. The Terms should be transparent and should clearly and conspicuously inform the app user that data is being collected by the app.
  2. Be Clear What Type of Data is Being Collected. It is not enough to simply state that data is being collected. Rather, the Terms should disclose why the data is being collected and how it will be used. The Terms should also disclose how the data is collected, if it is shared with third parties, what data is shared and in what form, if data will be collected even when the app is closed and should provide contact information so that the consumer may contact the app provider with questions.
  3. Make the Terms of Use and / or Privacy Policy Accessible. The Terms should be accessible on the app so that the app user can quickly review them. Retailers may also want to consider providing the consumer with a short notification upon downloading a Beacon enabled app that provides a brief summary advising that data will be collected, with links to the full version of the Terms. This may help encourage consumers to educate themselves on the Terms before signing them.

In addition, Retailers should ensure that they use reasonable safeguards to protect the personal data collected by the app and should keep the personal data for only as long as reasonably required. Employing reasonable safeguards and appropriate retention periods will reduce the risk of the customer data being lost in a security breach.

Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation ("CASL")

In addition to obtaining informed consent to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, retailers should ensure that they obtain consent from customers for sending commercial electronic messages ("CEMs") through the app.

CASL prohibits the sending of CEMs without the requisite consent. The term CEM is defined broadly to capture any electronic messages that encourage participation in a commercial activity. CASL takes a technology-neutral approach and captures all media and forms of electronic messaging. As a result, messages, push notifications and emails sent on behalf of a Beacon enabled app would likely be captured under the definition.

For this reason, it is recommended that retailers:

  1. Obtain Consent. Ensure you obtain consent to send CEMs and allow customers to opt-in to receive messages, push notifications, or emails. This request for consent can be obtained when the customer registers to use the app.
  2. Provide recipients with the prescribed information. CEMs must disclose prescribed information that identifies the sender, the sender's contact information and information about the unsubscribe mechanism.
  3. Honour opt-out requests promptly. Opt-out requests must be honoured within 10 days.
  4. Monitor third parties. Ensure that third-party app service providers are knowledgeable about CASL and in compliance with CASL when assisting with and implementing marketing programs and services.

To view original article, please click here

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions