The Observer – Facial recognition surveillance targeted at supermarkets in Britain’s poor areas

Big Brother Watch Team / January 27, 2024

Deprived areas are being targeted by the Southern Coop’s rollout of Orwellian live facial recognition technology, a new investigation by privacy and civil liberties group Big Brother Watch has found.

An average Southern Co-Op with facial recognition is in an area ranked more than 5,000 places higher out of 33,000 neighbourhoods in government rankings of local area deprivation.

Portsmouth is the biggest focus for the Southern Co-Op’s use of the intrusive tech.

Jake Hurfurt, head of research and investigations at Big Brother Watch said: “This data shows that AI supermarket surveillance is being directed at poorer communities, who
are more likely to suffer excessive invasions of their privacy and unfair treatment as a result.

“The supermarket is adding customers to secret watch-lists with no due process, meaning shoppers
from poorer areas can be spied on, blacklisted across multiple stores and denied food shopping despite being entirely innocent. It is a deeply unethical and frankly chilling way for any business to behave.

“The over-policing of deprived areas is a long-standing issue, but the Southern Co-op’s targeting of
poorer areas with Orwellian face scanning cameras raises deep concerns about discriminatory privatised surveillance. The Southern Co-op should remove these dangerously intrusive facial recognition cameras from all its supermarkets, now.”

The Observer – Facial recognition cameras in supermarkets ‘targeted at poor areas’ in England