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Security & privacy

Retail stores that are using AI to track you and those that refuse [Full list]

There is a line in the theme song lyrics to the sitcom “Cheers” where it says that the bar is “where everybody knows your name.” That might have been a fictional place, but it turns out that some stores are a place where everybody knows your face.

Security cameras are everywhere globally, and it is hard to walk down the road without spotting one. Ring doorbells can also capture what’s going on around the neighborhood and are generally used to keep people safe. Have a Ring camera? Tap or click here to opt out of Amazon’s shared wireless network.

For the most part, people tend to be fine with keeping an eye on others in the name of safety. But you might find it disturbing when retailers use facial recognition to identify everybody inside their store. Read on for details on this creepy practice.

Here’s the backstory

Facial recognition is no longer just being used to enter super-secret facilities or unlock your phone. The technology has evolved so much that shopping malls and grocery stores use it to keep track of shoppers, foot traffic and self-serve checkout points.

You might not always be aware that facial recognition is being used, and that poses a privacy risk for anybody it recognizes. Some of the systems are so advanced that researchers speculate they can be used to target specific products to shoppers. Here we go, in-person targeted ads.

A campaign has been started calling for the technology to be limited or removed altogether.   

“Imagine a store showing you targeted advertising based on the products you look at but never buy — or even personalized pricing based on a perception of your income once they’ve identified you,” the Ban Facial Recognition in Stores campaign states.

Who’s using it and what you can do

The easiest way to stop your likeness from being scanned and stored on a database is to avoid the shops that have admitted to using it. The campaign has identified several outlets, and they include:

  • Albertsons
  • H.E.B Grocery
  • Macy’s
  • Apple Stores

Stores that indicated that they might use the technology in the future include:

  • Walgreens
  • McDonald’s
  • Yum! Brands
  • 7-Eleven
  • Best Buy
  • Publix
  • TJX
  • Aldi
  • Dollar General
  • Kohl’s
  • Starbucks
  • Ace Hardware
  • Meijer
  • Shoprite
  • Ross
  • Ahold Delhaize USA

The campaign indicates that facial recognition led to an arrest at an Albuquerque Albertsons. But also that Macy’s “was hit with privacy lawsuit over alleged use of facial recognition software in 2020.”

If you feel uncomfortable about cameras tracking your whereabouts, you can add your voice to the growing number of people who signed the petition.

The campaign warns: “Your face should not be scanned, stored, or sold just because you walk into or work at a store. Retailers justify using facial recognition to protect and predict their profits, but this technology puts workers in danger, exacerbates bias, and amasses personal data.”

Keep reading

Facebook’s Instagram accused of illegal facial recognition scans of millions of users

Has your local police department used facial recognition software? Check this database

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