Britain Calls For Ban On Facial Recognition In StoresAdmin
Human rights activists have appealed to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) with a demand to ban facial recognition of buyers in supermarkets in the south of England. Reuters writes about it.
According to Big Brother Watch, southern Co-operative uses scanners in 35 stores in ten cities. The system creates a biometric profile of each visitor, which allows the retailer to form a “black list” of buyers. If one of them enters the store, the staff is notified.
Human rights activists called the system “Orwellian in the extreme” and called the ICO to investigate whether it violates data protection laws.
“Our legal complaint to the Information Commissioner is a vital step towards protecting the privacy rights of the thousands of people who have been affected by this dangerously intrusive private espionage,” Big Brother Watch director Silky Carlo said in a statement.
Southern Co-operative, which operates fewer than 200 stores, said it welcomes any constructive feedback from the ICO.
“We take our responsibilities regarding the use of facial recognition very seriously and are working hard to balance the rights of our customers with the need to protect our colleagues and customers from unacceptable infringement and abuse,” the company said in a statement.
A spokesman for the retailer added that the biometric identification system is only used in stores with a high crime rate. The need to install it was explained by the desire to protect employees from known offenders.
According to the statement, the database does not store images of people not identified as criminals.
“This gives our colleagues time to decide on any action they should take, such as asking them to politely leave the premises or escalate the incident if it is a violation of an injunction,” the company said.