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Indeed. This isn't new. It's everywhere.

The cameras retailers use with their surveillance systems are coming with facial recognition built in now. [1]

And lots of retailers, banks, etc, are using systems that track people's visits across multiple locations. [2]

You'll see a lot of these systems being sold as fraud/loss prevention solutions. The reason for this is that it's a relatively easy sell this way - customers can count how many thieves they've caught this way to easily determine the ROI they're getting on the system. Once the systems are in place, it's relatively easy to start using them for marketing related purposes.

Not all uses of systems like these are necessarily unethical. Consider a case where you want to set up a rule like 'if the average lineup length at the checkouts exceeds 5 people, call backup cashiers'. The problem is that once you have something like this in place, it's very tempting for company execs to want to use the data for legal but less than ethical purposes.

[1] https://www.axis.com/ca/en/solutions-by-application/facial-r... [2] https://www.facefirst.com/solutions/face-recognition-predict...

That's always going to be tempting, and the only real tractable solution is for society to have a larger conversation on the ethics so the law can catch up with it.

Note that some ethical consensus is key---without it, companies can just price "Well, some customers think image recognition is creepy" into the risk model and do it anyway. Compare privacy concerns---people talk big about their concerns over privacy, but in practice, we're still in a world where a survey-taker can get very personal information from a random individual at a mall by offering a free candy bar. Until and unless people arrive at a common consensus that their personal information---including their face---has value or they have a proprietary right to that information, even in public, there's no real tractable solution to this problem.

... because there's no real agreement that there's a problem to solve.

the only real tractable solution is for society to have a larger conversation on the ethics so the law can catch up with it

The department of commerce tried to facilitate talks about establishing a voluntary standard. The surveillance industry was so terrified of the idea that they should be held to a principled position that they wouldn't even budge on one of the weakest possible protections: A voluntary-participation standard that said people must opt-in to be identified by name through facial recognition when they are on public property.

https://www.eff.org/document/privacy-advocates-statement-nti... (and previous HN discussion on negotiations falling apart: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9729696 )

Woah, i'd give away a lot of information for a candy bar. I get nothing from ads; they lower the quality of everyone's life.

Often, you're more-or-less getting the content surrounding the ads from the ads, albeit indirectly.

My local gas station upgraded its pumps recently to allow it to play video ads on the screen used to do the credit card transaction. I don't doubt it's partially the reason that gas station is still operational when similar non-franchises vendors in town have gone under.

Often times i don't give a damn about the content it sponsors. I'd much rather be able to do my business without being assaulted by ads, which often have little to do with reality, and often act as an alienating and dehumanizing force. It's very difficult to see the good.

I would rather have no content than ad-supported content. of course, nobody will ever offer that! You can't sell ads if people can opt out, and too many big players think they're the only way.

Thank gas station should have charged more or folded than sell you shit you don't want, won't want, and will never spend money on.

If you're expecting people to fold their livelihoods instead of sell ads, you may not understand how attached people are to their livelihoods. ;)

Meanwhile, there are some inroads into financial support alternatives to ads everywhere. Google has a "contributor" product (https://contributor.google.com/v/marketing) where you can basically bid against the ads they'd vend to you; instead of an ad running, you pay a microtransaction to buy the privilege of no ad.

It's an interesting idea, but it only works with Google's ad network.

Oh no, I'm not expecting it to go away.

Frankly, i don't mind google ads; i mind wasting 20 seconds to load a page with about two paragraphs of content and 3mb worth of ads. But this is all ignorig the broader point: why are we basing our revenue off of patterns many realize for being toxic, consumerist, negative-value? People AT GOOGLE will happily admit this while working to build it.

I do my own part by supporting Ad Nauseum[0] and actively punishing sites that serve ads, particularly facebook and google. It's also decent for a (very shallow, for now) layer of noise for your ad profiles. Offer me a flat fee and convince me to spend; don't trick me into viewing ads.

0: https://adnauseam.io

Gas stations in the US make very little, possibly zero, from the sale of gasoline.

Anyone have a source for this oft claimed fact? Retail to spot spread is averaging $.50-$.70/gallon for 86 octane with $.20-$.30 added for each premium tier in PHX. Does adding detergent & transport eat up that much margin?

There's no real reason to believe that, though. If someone has a space for an ad, why wouldn't they sell it, even if they don't need it to produce the content? This is one of the problems with profit-maximization: it means every avenue of efficient revenue generation should be exploited whether it's needed or welcomed or not.

Even the pay-for-no ads model doesn't hold up, because if you pay for content, why wouldn't they just double-collect and make you pay for ads served with the content? I purchased my phone and my phone service, but I still get ads in my notifications. Because I didn't pay "enough" to avoid it.

It's like paying off a blackmail ransom. You give them $100 and they come back next week and say "how about another $100?"

"The cameras retailers use with their surveillance systems are coming with facial recognition built in now. [1]"

Your source in the marketing material of an IP camera manufacturer.

We research that space and I can guarantee that less than 0.1% of IP cameras have facial recognition built-in or running. These manufacturers, like Axis, whom you cite, would love for such capabilities but they are still very uncommon.

Can't they still use the feed from regular camera and have another system to facial recognition from that feed?

>We research that space and I can guarantee that less than 0.1% of IP cameras have facial recognition built-in or running.

While I'm sure this is true (since the majority of IP cameras in the world are cheap things little more than webcams), do you have a number for retail stores specifically? I know many of the larger chains spend a lot of money on their cameras and movement detection and other intelligence has been onboard those for at least 15 years.

Just yesterday I was hearing news of how most of the retail giants and lots of smaller retail stores are going out of business due to competition from ecommerce. If that means the end of practices like this, then good riddance.

But, aren't ecommerce sites collecting this information and more from your browsing? I don't think it's possible to say one is much better than the other, just that we expect tracking online, not in the real world.

There is the point that in the "real world", social norms haven't yet adapted to the requirements of privacy (although you could also view it as societal norms allowing too much tracking). For example, if I wanted to use a mask to conceal my face from trackers, I would be ostracized. There are analogues in the virtual world of course, but it's usually harder in the physical world.

some modern cams (at least traffic ones) no longer use AGC and will not be fooled by this

They're even more accurate than facial recognition at building a profile of what demographic you fit in

It's likely traditional retail that falls by the wayside is going to make room for more competitive retail that leverages this information to its advantage in a way ecommerce sites can't.

Consider Amazon Go (https://www.theverge.com/2016/12/5/13842592/amazon-go-new-ca... setting up an account with a store, users enter, grab what they want, and leave. The system of cameras and biometric trackers observing the store figures out after-the-fact what you grabbed and charges it automatically to your account through a sensor fusion including face recognition. That's a level of convenience rivaling ecommerce for things people want to grab by hand (often produce and small items, for example), and it's completely enabled by this category of technology.

Perhaps, but it simply means the survivors will become more desperate to gain an edge. We've seen this exact behavior with online news sources cramming more and more ads and trackers into websites.


It is HIPAA, not HIPPA. It stands for "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act."

I get your basic point and I don't disagree that we need more privacy protection. But, no, we do not "need HIPPA" for all personal information.

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