Facial recognition cameras at Co-Op stores ‘add shoppers to watchlists’

Co-op is facing legal action over its “Orwellian” and “illegal” use of facial recognition cameras.

Privacy rights group Big Brother Watch said supermarket employees can add people to a secret “blacklist” without their knowledge.

But Co-op says it uses the Facewatch system in stores with a history a crimeso that he can protect his staff.

Big Brother Watch said the independent grocery chain has installed surveillance technology in 35 stores in Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Bristol, Brighton and Hove, Chichester, Southampton and London.

It claimed that employees could add people to a watchlist where their biometric information is stored for up to two years.

Earlier this year Mail on Sunday it was revealed that the facial recognition cameras used by Southern Co-Op were made by a Chinese state-owned company..

Hikvision cameras have been listed as a national security threat in the US, and the UK Department of Defense has issued recommendations not to use the company’s equipment.

The firm has been blacklisted by US authorities over links to human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs in China, while MPs have called for a UK-wide ban.

Privacy concerns: Southern Co-Op faces legal action over its “Orwellian” and “illegal” use of facial recognition cameras (file image)

FACEWATCH: HOW TECHNOLOGY KNOWS PEOPLE

Facewatch boasts plans to roll out its system to more than 500 stores and gas stations.

He claims that the system is 97.8% accurate in face recognition even when masks are on, and emphasizes that it only used images of previous offenders and none of them were passed on to the police.

The technology sends an alert the moment an object of interest enters the room and is the only one common national facial recognition checklist.

However, critics have questioned the legality of the system in stores.

Facial recognition cameras are a controversial technology, raising questions about how well they recognize darker skin tones, along with ethical privacy concerns.

According to Big Brother Watch’s complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the surveillance system “uses new technology and highly invasive processing of personal data to create a biometric profile of every visitor to stores that have its cameras installed.”

Group Director Silky Carlo said: “Our legal complaint to the Information Commissioner is a vital step towards protecting the privacy rights of the thousands of people who have been affected by this dangerously intrusive private espionage.

“The use of the Southern Surveillance Co-op with real-time facial recognition is highly Orwellian, highly likely to be illegal, and the Information Commissioner should stop it immediately.”

Big Brother Watch’s ICO complaint alleges that the Facewatch system violates data protection laws because information is processed in ways disproportionate to the need to prevent crime.

One camera captures the faces of people who enter stores before the images are analyzed and converted into biometric data.

This is then compared to a database of individuals who the co-op says have stolen from its stores or been violent.

Southern Co-Op, independent of the larger Co-op chain but operating more than 200 stores in the south of England under the same brand, insisted that this was not a list of people with criminal convictions but a list of people who were covered. business. evidence of criminal or antisocial behavior.

It says the technology is GDPR compliant, “and also allows us to collect evidence against more active thieves in our stores before entering into negotiations with local police.”

In a statement to BBCSouthern Co-Op said it would welcome “constructive feedback” from the Information Commissioner.

The network added, “We take our responsibilities regarding the use of facial recognition very seriously and work hard to balance the rights of our customers with the need to protect our colleagues and customers from unacceptable violence and abuse.”

“The safety of our colleagues and customers is paramount, and this technology has made a real difference in the limited number of high-risk locations where it is used.

“Signs are displayed in the respective stores.

Southern Co-Op is independent of the larger Co-op chain, but has over 200 stores in the south of England under the same brand.  Pictured: Bristol co-op

Southern Co-Op is independent of the larger Co-op chain, but has over 200 stores in the south of England under the same brand. Pictured: Bristol co-op

“As long as it continues to prevent violent attacks, we believe its use is warranted.”

The supermarket system is provided by real-time facial recognition company Facewatch, which helps retailers catch thieves and aggressive shoppers.

Facewatch says it keeps a database of “objects of interest” faces for two years, although facial recognition technology is known to return a high number of false matches.

The company also claims that unmatched faces are “removed instantly.”

Facewatch said its technology has “proven to be effective in preventing crime, and our customers have seen significant reductions in crime rates.”

It also supplies biometric cameras to Costcutter, Sports Direct, Spar and Nisa.

HOW DOES FACE RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY WORK?

Facial recognition software works by matching images in real time with a previous photo of a person.

Each face has approximately 80 unique hotspots on the eyes, nose, cheeks, and mouth that distinguish one person from another.

A digital video camera measures the distance between various points on a person’s face, such as the width of the nose, the depth of the eye sockets, the distance between the eyes, and the shape of the jawline.

Another intelligent surveillance system (pictured) has been discovered in China that can scan 2 billion faces in seconds.  The system connects to millions of security cameras and uses artificial intelligence to select targets.  The military is working on using a similar AI version to track people across the country.

Another intelligent surveillance system (pictured) has been discovered in China that can scan 2 billion faces in seconds. The system connects to millions of security cameras and uses artificial intelligence to select targets. The military is working on using a similar AI version to track people across the country.

This creates a unique numeric code that can then be linked to the corresponding code obtained from the previous photo.

The facial recognition system used by officials in China connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to select targets.

Experts believe that facial recognition technology will soon overtake fingerprint technology as the most effective way to identify people.