Portsmouth Co-op stores have recently become a hub for Facewatch technology, being used as an extra security measure for eighteen stores in the area. The facial recognition cameras scan the customer as they walk into the shop, checking their face and features against a watchlist. The software identifies potential shoplifters as they walk into the shop, which can be untrustworthy when taking into account inherent AI bias.
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch says:
‘The Co-op’s use of Orwellian facial recognition surveillance abuses customers’ rights and trashes the company’s ‘ethical’ branding.
‘The supermarket is adding customers to secret watchlists with no due process, many of whom will find themselves blacklisted despite being innocent or having spent convictions. This is an atrocious way for any business to behave.
‘The best way to protect staff and prevent theft is to report crimes to the police, rather than expect staff to act like police using invasive biometric surveillance.
‘The Southern Co-op’s use of live face surveillance raises major legal concerns and, if maintained, is likely to result in a legal challenge. If the company is serious about respecting customers’ rights and concern for the community, it should drop its facial recognition cameras immediately.’