More than 35 organizations are demanding that the best U.S. retailers stop facial recognition to identify their buyers and employees in their stores, which companies have used to prevent theft and identify thefts.
The name of the campaign is aptly Ban Facial Recognition in Stores, and is identified stores who have committed not to use face recognition, such as Walmart, Home Depot and Target. It is now putting pressure on companies that are currently using the technology or those that may use it in the future. Some companies that currently use the technology, according to the website, include Apple, Lowe’s, Albertsons, Macy’s and Ace Hardware.
Companies that might use it in the future include McDonalds, Walgreens and 7-Eleven. A complete list can be found on the website.
Privacy non-profit Fight for the Future ran the campaign last month as part of its larger Ban Facial Recognition project, but has now received support from civil society organizations such as Mijente, Public Citizen and Data for Black Lives, as well as the American Consumer Organization and the Tor project. Especially a face recognition company Cairo, which promotes itself as an ethical seller of technology, has also signed the campaign.
Tawana Petty, national organizer of Data for Black Lives, explains in a campaign press release that Detroit has implemented the Project Green Light project, which places facial surveillance cameras in more than 700 companies.
“These facial recognition cameras are monitored in real-time crime centers, police stations and on officials’ mobile devices 24/7, ”he said. “It’s hard to explain the psychological strain on the community, knowing that every move you make is followed by a racially biased algorithm that has the power to drive your freedom away from you.”
Retailers have used invasive techniques such as products ping your phone’s Bluetooth and then lists its unique MAC address, but artificial intelligence upgrades to video surveillance systems have made it easier than ever to access features like face recognition.
For example, Rite-Aid quietly installed facial recognition cameras in hundreds of U.S. stores, mostly in non-white and low-income neighborhoods, Reuters reported in July 2020. The cameras scanned the faces of shoppers in an attempt to find people in the store who were previously suspected of criminal activity and who then sent alerts to security.
Walmart also reported using Clearview AI’s face recognition more than 300 times BuzzFeed news, and was previously used technology trying to catch the stealing. It seems to take a different approach using artificial intelligence find unscanned items at self-service kiosks.
Because these stores are privately owned, companies are not bound by them in accordance with state or local regulations banning the use of state facial recognition, which has been the most popular form of regulation. Only Portland, Oregon, is including private companies facial recognition ban.
Fight for the Future also points out that the coronavirus pandemic has expanded the use of face-to-face surveillance in stores, which includes software for counting customers and social distance status.