Technology advancements may impact condo privacy expectations


Audrey Loeb Head Shot

There is no doubt the varied uses of technology are here to stay, but Toronto condominium lawyer Audrey Loeb says the use of drones and artificial intelligence could clash with the privacy rights of condo dwellers.

Loeb, a partner with Shibley Righton LLP, tells there are many technological changes happening in the condominium corporation industry, like the introduction of artificial intelligence to monitor HVAC systems and the use of airborne drones to police properties for infractions of no smoking policies.

In preparation for the forthcoming changes, she offers this advice — "hold onto your hats."

Loeb foresees that "privacy, or the lack thereof, is going to be a problem."

"I just don't think we have an idea of what's actually going to happen," she says of the construction and surveillance technology under development.

"Everybody knows it's coming, but we are not well informed as to what it's going to mean. Will these things come piecemeal or all at once? What's the expectation of privacy?"

Loeb says of concern is how the available technology will be utilized by condominium corporations, how much they will be prepared to spend, and what is involved in implementing the changes or installing the new systems.

She says there is so much work being done at present in the field of robotics that it won't be long before science is replacing jobs, noting that condominiums might eventually "employ" cleaners on every floor.

Loeb says enforcement of condominium rules can be problematic, citing, for example, no-smoking provisions or pet access areas.

"No one can be out policing 24 hours a day, seven days a week — except with a drone, although someone has to be operating it. The question then becomes: are residents going to be under 24-hour surveillance?"

She says there will be condominium corporations that feel it's important to pay for these services but they will also have to grapple with how this conflicts with the privacy rights of residents.

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