Coda Story – Southern Co-op scans the faces of shoppers, holding their biometric data for years

Big Brother Watch Team / January 11, 2023

Privacy and civil liberties group Big Brother Watch found that grocery stores, part of the Southern Co-op supermarket chain, are using facial recognition technology as a part of their in-store surveillance system. CCTV cameras installed inside these shops have been scanning the faces of innocent shoppers. If the staff suspects a customer of committing a crime, the individual can be placed on a “subject of interest” watchlist. Big Brother Watch believes that this mass surveillance of customers severely violates their privacy. Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, filed a legal complaint with the ICO against Southern Co-op’s use of facial recognition. She said, “I feel very, very confident that this is not only unlawful but a significant breach of people’s privacy rights and data protection rights and that this precedent-setting is actually really, really important.”

A duty manager at the Copnor Road supermarket, Joshua Shadbolt, shared that this technology is necessary to prevent theft. On the other hand, Carlo said this is “privatized policing with the backing of extreme biometric surveillance.”

Coda Story – UK supermarket uses facial recognition tech to track shoppers