Are Stores You Shop at Secretly Using Face Recognition on You?

JENNA BITAR | March 26, 2018

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Are American retail stores using face recognition on their customers without telling them? We asked some of America’s biggest retailers and, with a few exceptions, they refused to tell us. We do know that most major retailers have video cameras in their stores. We know that at least one face recognition vendor is pushing the use of the technology for identifying shoplifters, and claims to have several Fortune 500 retailers among its clients. We know the technology’s use is rapidly growing in the UK. We know the New York Times reported recently that the use of face recognition is being “explored” at Madison Square Garden. We know that Walmart tested the technology in its stores for several months in 2015. And now we know that at least one major American retailer, Lowe’s hardware, has begun using the technology without informing visitors to its stores. We also know that a government-run “multi-stakeholder” process attempting to craft voluntary standards for the use of face recognition fell apart in 2015 because not a single company or corporate trade association would agree to the principle that people shouldn’t be subject to face recognition without their permission.

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