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The Secretive Business of Facial-Recognition Software in Retail Stores (nymag.com)
275 points by NN88 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 162 comments

I worked for a retail analytics company that would do things like track WiFi/Bluetooth devices, faces, and general shopper traffic.

It had been a few years since I've worked there but the real problem was that all of this didn't work. All these promises to our clients that's you would get data equivalent of online shoppers, in store, but it simply wouldn't work. Guess people age, gender, previously seem face, tracking where they walked. All horribly inaccurate.

Though apparently it's an industry wide thing as "imputing" was common practice. Don't have the data? Make it up!

I don't know about retail but if you are ever in Las Vegas or Reno, go into a casino and walk past every slot machine to the reservation desk and ask for a room. Availability and prices will be far worse than booking after gambling or even phoning from the parking lot.

Isn't this just price segmentation by contact method? If im already at your hotel asking about rooms I'm likely less price sensitive than someone calling in advance. But If i give you my players card likely get some kind of paltry discount.

Yeah, well -- LV is the original source of much of what we know today about data mining. So, it makes sense that they would still be decades ahead of the rest of the field.

Which makes it so odd that they don't use member cards, whereas every casino in Atlantic City does.

Do you have data on how many slot machines visits between entry and the front desk leads to reduced cost?

It does seem somewhat far-fetched otherwise.

Yea you just “stitch” the data together to get your perfect customer data profile.

Actually you end up with about 5% of your customer base properly tracked, and those people are already buying the most stuff anyway. I would bet that nailing the supply chain and focusing on your margin would be a better investment in most cases.

True. Most of it is marketing BS. Overpromise is the norm. But if you read the comments here, you see that even technical people are buying that. And possibly it will work later, so we can worry now.

But there's no reason that this couldn't work well with improvements in sensors and implementations. If you don't think this is possible in a highly reliable way, you are wrong.

Technology is ever advancing and improving and I’m sure eventually we will get there. Or we’re already there, like I said, I’m out of the loop for past few years so maybe some amazing improvements have happened.

Another inhibitor of this technology is how cheap/behind retail companies tend to be.

We want advanced analytics. Ok, we can set up these cameras and the like which will send everything to our servers for computation.

We only have dsl at the store. Ok, then we need to set up a server(s) at the store.

We only want to spend 2k max per store, and use sub-sub-sub contractors to actually set up this equipment.

All of this pain and trouble scared me away from working with retail focused companies for past few years.

This. I am a lead developer in a leading FR company, and this comment right here hits the nail on the head. Every one of your points is an active issue with retail. It's a pain in the asshole.

Sure there is a reason -- there might not be a statistically significant / valuable signal in the available data.

And in the physical retail world, collecting data comes at a cost (hardware, infrastructure, support). Often times, benefits don't outweigh that cost.

With optical cameras, wifi and Bluetooth signatures, location data, 3rd party databases, and ML, there is more than enough data to get an ID enough shoppers to care. None of that tech is prohibitively expensive. It just requires someone to build out a cost-effective implementation with off the shelf parts.

There's a lot more "just" to deploying anything of the sort to a 1,000+ physical store footprint.

At minimum, what's the local network situation? Where are you storing and processing the take? Are you installing edge compute or transferring it out? If the later, what are your latency requirements?

I try and take a healthy dose of "maybe it's a harder problem than I thought" whenever something is valuable, looks easy, yet no one is doing it.

This plan all falls apart when the retail CEO has "his nephew manage the project, 'cause he's good with computers". Then a 20 year old more concerned with girls and video games appears. He has zero technical experience beyond video games, and attitude that you're his flunky. Seen it. Multiple times.

What was the company called? Have you heard of Barvision?

Really this whole business with tracking obsession is highly silly in my opinion. They gather this data with all of this overhead under the assumption that it will somehow boost sales instead of improving service or price margin. You know things that actually helped Amazon gain retail traction.

Shoplifting is an even worse excuse given that most retail theft is done by their employees and they seem to show no signs of trying to boost loyalty and engagement.

> Shoplifting is an even worse excuse given that most retail theft is done by their employees

Sounds like a quite bad argument to me. Whether it makes sense to invest in this shoplifter-catcher technology is quite simple mathematics. If you prevent/catch enough shoplifters with it is worth the investment (doesn't matter if they are only the non-employee shoplifters). I'm pretty sure that shop owners can do that kind of investment decision pretty well, I highly doubt shop owners would be investing to these if it wasn't worth the hassle.

I'm not in retail, but what I've heard shoplifting can be huge hassle for shop owners. I also knew one kleptomaniac guy personally when I was younger and he stole shitloads of stuff and rarely got caught (according what he told me).

I used to shop at a supermarket here, spending upwards of 10K/yr there on my family grocery bill -- they got some AI startup camera bullshit and I've never been back. (Startup stuff both in store and parking lot, supposedly ties cars to customers and all kinds of shit, I won't say who so as not to promote them.) It's been half a year so far, and I'll never trust them again.

I considered contacting their CEO to say hey, for every guy like me who bothers to contact you, there may be others who just change stores and don't bother. In the end, I didn't bother either, I just shop somewhere else (its about 5 minutes further away but 15% or so cheaper overall... so I'm winning on two levels).

You'd have to be catching a hell of a lot of shoplifting to make up for even half a dozen lost regulars.

I bet they got sold it and aren't doing any kind of before and after analysis, not that I'd rise above the noise anyway.

Hopefully 99% of this stuff will die off when the bubble pops; I assume that even if it is profitable now, it won't be once retailers and other customers trim the fat during a recession.

I think things like this happen because managers need numbers to put into spreadsheets to show that they're ... doing something. But really, they are just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. The sad thing is they don't understand the tech well enough to know how bad the privacy violations are.

The control freaks are taking over the world! Let's collect data just in case it may be useful.

Interesting stat on employee theft being bigger than shoplifting, can you link to some support for that?

Huh apparently things shifted some that it managed to drop to number 2 despite it being the status quo for years.


Thank you for still posting.

Shoplifters take individual items out the front door. Employees can take cases out the back door.

Anecdotally I'd say that customer theft is the bigger culprit.

A lot of shops require that a manager checks the employees' bags before they leave at the end of their shift to ensure that they haven't pilfered anything.

Employee shrink consists of all sorts of stuff... theft, pilferage, spoilage, fraudulent transactions, etc.

It can be as minor as giving an employee two cups for hot coffee or as serious as fraudulent receiving or running two cash tills.

I understand that. I wasn't asking for an explanation of what it was, just asking for data since I found it surprising.

If you're saying using visitor analytics won't boost sales, you're completely wrong. With facial recognition, you'll get the same type of stats as dropping a cookie on someone's browser. You can figure out your CAQ, LTV, frequency of visit, conversion rate and how that plays out with advertising spend and pricing strategy(coupons/discounts/sales). Loyalty cards have proved this but loyalty cards only capture sales and not missed sales.

Assuming it's accurate. What I've seen, it's more smoke & mirrors on the part of the vendor. I suppose the question is this: is extremely noisy/probabilistic information better, or worse, than none?

I work as an FR developer, supporting the in field deployments as well as application development. The key driver of FR in retail is organized theft gangs. All the larger retail chains have issues with organized crime, theft gangs, who have highly organized teams pull off significant crimes. Catching one of these gangs pays for the entire system.

Worst-case they can sell that data to major advertisers for better tracking of ads (especially if they know what the customer bought).

I'm on the verge of wearing an infrared LED baseball cap everywhere I go now. Maybe I'm overly paranoid, but better to start earlier than later?

Also, are infrared LED disguise devices easily defeated? E.g. can camera installers just add an additional infrared filter to their setup?

It won't save you - gait detection is also being used in places like China and that's a lot harder to protect yourself from.

Systems also tend to use regular and infrared images for detection too (at least in the case of ALPR).

We need people to care about these things and how the data is used, we need laws for rules around collection, access, and rights. We need to work together towards maintaining the ideas that support western democracy rather than moving towards nationalism.

I worry that instability from climate change and the refugee crisis that comes from that instability will make things worse, along with the current centralization of wealth/inequality issues and rise of more populist right wing movements.

Individual technical solutions will likely not do much to protect you if we lose the cultural framework around democracy.

> gait detection

All I can think of is The Ministry of Silly Walks.

The cyberpunk media was all wrong- people won't be wearing masks and punk hairstyles to hide their faces; they'll be walking silly and wearing baggy pants to hide their gaits.

"His walking pattern indicates that both legs are artificial below the knees. Similarly, the unconscious habit of stroking his prosthetic right arm is a clear symptom of Phantom Limb Syndrome. It's also a strong external characteristic of the presence of a Ghost. Based upon these and other distinct behavior patterns matched against European Police databanks, I conclude this person is Marcelo Jarti." ~ Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2004), S1E7 - IDOLATOR

Maybe the future is just full of EM blasters and jammers, made as easy to buy and hard to control as insanely overpowered laser pointers.

It's sickening to think that you're going to have to engage in actual electronic warfare with the world around you just to buy some milk for breakfast.

In order to save yourself from, what exactly? The local grocer having a picture of you in their store?

What do they need that for?

Also, such systems are primarily used by chain shops, and provided by specialized companies. Both mean the data gets shared to multiple entities.

You have a great point with the baggy pants. I think I'll go invest in Jnco.

Exoskeleton that walks with a pseudo-random gait.

“Did you find him in the video feed sir?”

“We got nothing via gait detection, but the intern noticed this guy walking around in an exoskeleton suit so we sent a unit out to bring him in”

Now remember, walk without rhythm, and we won't attract the worm.

Christ! At that point, you just give up and go live in the woods.


Now you know the REAL reason that they banned Segways everywhere!


I thought the workaround there was to put a handful of gravel in your shoes to disguise your gait

Are you always changing the amount of gravel every time you go out? These work arounds seem pretty unrealistic and likely you could try and train whatever variance they cause anyway into the model.

Can't wait for the next YC Demo Day darling: the first truly random gravel dispenser.

Turns out that it knocks around enough and ends up about as good as varying the amount. Lego pieces work too if you want a more lightweight solution.

Gait detection can be easily be fooled, you just wear some weird shoes that make walking hard in. Your gait will change drastically. Alternate between zero drop, heel and reverse heel.

Fast forward to the year 2050: "Why is everyone wearing ski boots and ski masks... it's 100 degrees?"

Imagine yourself tasked with solving this problem, how would you do it?

The first thing I would do is gather a bunch of data for people walking trying to mess up their gait. Different types of shoes, pebbles in shoes etc. Then include that in the model or even just look for that as suspicious itself.

You're not giving enough credit to the capability of the people that do this kind of work. It is not simple to avoid and the vast majority of people would not even go this far.

How many people communicate entirely over encryption today?

It's actually a hard problem that people who do this encounter and seems impossible to get right. We actually can tell if a friend is walking in the distance by looking at gait+clothes but could make mistkes as well, it's not 100% accurate. For surveillance reasons it's much easier to get 100 accuracy with just tagging people with microchips and that'a that. Why would we want to excel at gait-fingerprinting people?? That's a scary thing to want to perfect. Very Science fictiony and hopefully not prevalent in the future

Randomized inflating bladders under your toe and heel, change your shoe type as you walk!

> gait detection

not to be confused with galt detection, which tracks people who've read Atlas Shrugged and took its economic/political philosophy a little too seriously.

Laws are only as reliable as the integrity of those who write and enforce them.

I agree - that's why it's just as important to maintain the culture of western democracy, government driven by an idea and not by people. If we lose that then the laws won't protect us either.

A relevant description I heard that I liked was that democracy is a boulder at the top of a hill that was pushed there by the deaths of millions, ready to roll down at any time. It takes work to keep things in that state and to protect it.

And when they're being written by lobbyists from Wal-Mart and Target...

Or AT&T, GM, Amazon, and all the other biggest members of the Fortune 100.

Put a stone in your shoe and periodically move it to change your gait.

Gait detection is a joke, technically discredited, and only suitable for use by bad journalism. It does not work because it is so easily defeated: put a rock in your shoe, where your shoes on the wrong feet, or just injure a foot. Your gait is different.

Put a small pebble in your shoe. Alternate shoes regularly.

Maybe bell bottom pants will come back in fashion!

We are creating a really nice world. At work you have to wear headsets to be able to focus. And in the public you have to wear some variation of a tinfoil hat to avoid being tracked everywhere. Soon the idea of doing anything without the knowledge of dozens of companies and governments will be a quaint memory.

I saw an interesting hoodie with the brim of the hood was a row of flashing IR LEDs. I asked if they had forgotten to turn on their LEDs and they said "take a picture." I did and got just a bright glowy spot where their face should be. It was pretty impressive, but it would not be hard to put an optical filter on specific wavelengths from LEDs if that became more common.

we might be saved because security cameras use those same LEDs and their near IR sensitivity for "night vision" purposes.

if they filter it out, they don't have their "night vision" any more.

(obviously twice as many cameras, or more expensive ones, or whatever, could deal with it.)

Do sensor fusion of the IR-sensitive and non-IR sensitive cameras, and now you know who your biggest targets are, and they make themselves so very easy to follow!

Clearly Defcon needs a facial rec village next year, get through three rooms without having your face recognized to win :-)

No affiliation but was Googling round from your comment and found: http://www.reflectacles.com/

Nice, same concept in an easier to wear package. I love the idea of using the retroreflective tape on these things.

Now that's an arms race I can get behind! Cheap LEDs/filters in more than just the visible spectrum would be SUCH a boon to researchers.

Infrared LED devices are quite easily defeated using an appropriate filter. Doing this though introduces another problem: most security cameras use an array of infrared LEDs for lighting. These are ideal because they produce almost no visible light to the human eye, so they're relatively covert. You can block the infrared LED emissions, but then you also block a very useful source of "invisible" lighting in otherwise challenging areas.

I think a much bigger problem with your technique though is... seriously who wears an infrared LED baseball cap? You would be very easily identifiable because that technique is likely to be nearly unique in your store; your attempt to mask your identity would have the opposite effect of drawing more attention to it.

I smell a startup opportunity right here, make those hats a fashion must have and we have a crowd of infrared decoys that interrupt all cctv‘s... Problem would be law inforcement not being able to use any recordings. But otoh, back to the roots of criminal investigation! This comment may include some not so serious suggestions.

A retro reflective hat or sweater would work well in night time conditions, no?

Or at least be a good second feature.

Saturate the sensor in an environment that otherwise reflects little.

Even a small retro reflective logo can ruin a flash photo...

I just got a pair of these recently: https://www.reflectacles.com

Yikes, US$95 or US$125. May as well make your own with strips of DOT tape.

Having no experience with 3D printing, CAD, or knowledge of various reflectivity materials, I could spend the time necessary to chase those rabbits. Or I could just buy a pair.

The thing that fucks with me the most is people have already been born who will be tracked in stores their whole lives. Unless something changes that is.

The idea that you will be watched and tracked your whole life so that a store can better advertise/set up the store is terrifying. Honestly how the hell can it be legal?

>> can camera installers just add an additional infrared filter to their setup?

Yes - your smartphone camera already has one unless it's old and/or cheap.

Also, your LED baseball cap draws much more attention to you than anything else. That screams "look at me, I have something to hide". If you weren't on their radar before being seen in it, you almost certainly are afterwards.

That type of behavior can also trouble you in unrelated matters. EG, evidence of you wearing that to foil security cameras could be circumstantially presented to make you appear deceptive or conniving.

tldr; don't do anything to stand out if privacy is your goal.

As an adult, it's too late for you. But for your kids it's not too late to start. I saw infrared LED baseball caps at the local kids clothing store.

Any of the EDM LED Fashion eye wear (frames that glow colors) fully defeats FR. Any baseball cap with a blinky LED on will defeat FR. Wear a glow stick necklace, and it will defeat FR. The key is to create unnatural hot spots and shadows on a face that is not the type of imagery the ML was trained. Source: I write the software, I'm a lead FR developer.

One day I'll forget to charge my hat

High-end security cameras have day/night modes with IR cutoff filters. But yes, you're overly paranoid.

Why do they have that filter?

Cellphones don’t and take good pictures in day or night conditions.

Because you cannot have high-quality image, especially with good spectral content, both day and night, without an IR cutoff filter. Some cellphones do have IR filters, others can't take decent low-light photos. And many "secured areas" would actually have IR lights on to facilitate, well - visual surveillance.

Absurd that people are being driven to actually wear tinfoil hats on this skeever-hole of a planet.

So, you just made yourself the single biggest target on their radar, and you made absolutely certain that they will know exactly who you are and where you are -- at all times.

How exactly does that help?

Simpler solution: move to Europe.

You will blind people

why was I down voted for warning people against dangerous behavior

At this point it seems like we've lost the "war" against intrusive data collection. Between my google searches, credit score, bank transactions & location data, you could build a really accurate model of my life, probably yours too.

The only respite we have is that all this data is discrete and spread among different actors, but we've already seen that the massive data collectors are just getting bigger and bigger, every new product is an avenue to collect another data set.

I don't know that there ever really was a war. For nearly fifteen years Zuckerberg has been hoovering up every ounce of personal data he can get on everyone and they give it all to him willingly!

Snowden proves to us that our own government is spying on us as much as our enemies, yet the public outcry is more of a mass shrug.

Sadly, I feel more and more that we're at a point of no return; it's going to have to get way worse before it gets better. I'm hoping all it'll take to make our elected representative get off their asses and do something is when an indiscretion of a major political candidate is made public because of this level of data gathering. Because the people's interest in caring about their personal privacy ends at the point it hints at becoming an impediment to convenience.

> I'm hoping all it'll take to make our elected representative get off their asses and do something is when an indiscretion of a major political candidate is made public

As much as I hope this as well, I expect all that would happen as a result of this is further protection for candidates.

Well, with a defeatist attitude like that, you have. "Google searches"? Don't use Google search. Pay with cash for the little things - you'll still be tracked from point A to M to Z with your CC and purchase history, but maybe not on all levels in-between. Don't carry your phone around with you 24/7, and don't use GPS-enabled services (this means no Google apps if on Android). Don't drive modern cellular-enabled cars that ship with an always-on telemetry (and whatever falls under this broad scope) policy.

You just have to be willing to shoot yourself in the foot once or twice if you want to take a stance.

How could we write a law to ban this without putting undue restrictions on legitimate technology? We could just have them stop.

> We could just have them stop.

How? There are no political factions in the U.S. that would support such an agenda. Which party do you imagine taking up this issue?

You could have said the same thing about gay marriage or marijuana legalization in 2001. It's not like political change is impossible. In fact this change would be easier because it benefits the majority, unlike gay marriage or legal marijuana which were both minority issues.

> You could have said the same thing about gay marriage or marijuana legalization in 2001

I take your point, but I don't think it's the same thing. There was no vested commercial interest in maintaining the gay marriage ban and even then marriage equality was fiercely opposed and narrowly achieved and would be impossible to achieve today and into the foreseeable political future. It was also a no-brainer issue for Democrats that earned them a lot of support and did not conflict with Democratic donor interests. Marijuana is more complicated, especially if we are mindful of the fact that it is still a Schedule I drug (while e.g. cocaine, fentanyl and meth are Schedule II), but there was at least the gigantic bales of cash to create a clear incentive to drive legalization forward despite the fact that marijuana businesses are still being hamstrung by the banks and are under explicit threat by the attorney general. Still, marijuana is a very old issue with a clear binary choice that most of the citizenry is educated about...

Now, compare all that with a ratcheting up of privacy restrictions wherein the only possible outcome is the loss of billions of dollars in monetizable customer data and personal information, not to mention all the usual suspects that continuously endeavor to magnify the scope and breadth of the surveillance state for their own ends. Additionally, there is no clear binary choice like with marijuana and gay marriage; any viable solution will require an imperfect, nuanced, and somewhat technical approach to being solved and this type of solution is the hardest thing to do in our politics right now. There is no incentive for any faction to tamp down on data collection and the populace has given the signal that it doesn't really care about these issues (e.g. the equifax breach had no legal and minimal financial consequences for the company, and people have already forgotten). Additionally, there is also a sizable libertarian population among the technically literate that will oppose any kind of serious restrictions on data-collection because they are ideologically opposed to regulations. Imagine the furor on this forum if a presidential candidate seriously suggested something within the ballpark of EU style privacy laws - the entire front page would be flagged out of existence. Maybe I am pessimistic, but I just can't see a viable route to privacy restrictions.

edit: I just want to add: I'm not saying "no progress is possible forever, give up". I'm responding to the cavalier tone of your suggestion that "we can just make them stop". It's certainly possible, it's just very unlikely within the foreseeable future.

Data tax? Pay 100 USD / month or 0.01 % revenue per one personal record?

I think people should have copyright over everything their creative human brains produce, including their purchasing decisions. Copyright can't be transferred away from the author, only licensed. My credit card history happens to be a piece of performance art commenting on consumerism, thank you very much.

Hm.. there must be a way to incorporate purchasing decisions into an art piece that make them very obviously part of copyright for that case..

Something like a map with symbols for brands and bars for aggregate expenditure? Add some way to warp through time to show how your personal spending habits have changed.

You could call it Cost of Living.

> Copyright can't be transferred away from the author, only licensed.

I'm not a lawyer, but this statement seems to be false according to this: https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap2.html


Yeah, I have some friends working on this for WalMart. They get all the social media info for every customer, and they track across their stores. Of course, there are NSA databases available too, and they are probably using those (many NSA databases are run by private companies so that the NSA can deny any knowledge and skirt any privacy laws.) And WalMart is known for firing people who are trying to Unionize and finding reasons to fire all the people they have been talking to (wonder how Walmart knows who the pro-union people have been talking to?). This is not good. Essentially, any activity which is not approved can be stopped with sufficient monitoring. Getting very frightening.

Hello Mr. Yakamoto! Welcome back to the GAP! How'd those assorted tank tops work out for you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bXJ_obaiYQ for anyone that missed the reference.

In an effort to combat the rise of Amazon retail stores have decided to make going to them a miserable experience. From dumb questions asking if you are a rewards member to personally intrusive questions asking what big plans you have this weekend to this. More and more I dread actually going to a store. Amazon’s cashierless stores use cameras but that cost is compensated by making the shopping experience better.

The annoyance and inconvenience of having a cashier ask me about my weekend pales in comparison to what Amazon is doing with my data. And I think we'll find in the coming years that they are every bit as nefarious when it comes to the use of our private information as Facebook is.

My sarcasm was to make a point. The way for retail to combat Amazon is not to become even more annoying and give people reasons to not want to go to a store. People value convenience a lot. Hence Facebook's rise despite their shenanigans. If you insist on doing the nefarious you must make certain to make it convenient. Retail stores shoot themselves in the foot with their annoying behavior because they are neither more convenient or less annoying.

I've resolved myself to the fact that I live in a surveillance world now. My goal is to limit the knowledge to as few companies as possible. What I'm not willing to do is to be annoyed whilst giving my information to stupid retail stores.

What's your definition of nefarious?

If using your data to get you to spend as much money as possible fits that definition, then sure. They're absolutely doing that.

How can you have this article without a mention of Amazon Go, the store that literally allows you to walk out of the store without paying, due to facial recognition?

Oh cool! where do i get one?

"CV Dazzle" is a style of hair / makeup that is designed to prevent facial recognition. https://cvdazzle.com

An interesting art project, but I don't know many people who can make an ongoing commitment to doing makeup that resembles a World War 1 battleship.


i could see it becoming part of future fashion trends for the elite and/or criminal elements. then again maybe i watch too much cyberpunk.

The hairstyles in there look totally suitable for the cyberpunk 2077 45-minute preview:



And now all the security people are on the lookout for the person in strange makeup.

You know what - I'm OK with that. Security people have been tracking other people since the dawn of civilization.

It's security robots I have a problem with.

Well, so what. Those are really two separate problems.

Security and law enforcement is something you want to enable up to a point. Where that point lies is up to debate, but a different one. The topic here is fucking things up for advertisers. This I want to do indiscriminately. If they have to track me manually, that's a win too, because it's more expensive fro them.

"But it's only to provide the customer a better experience"

I'd prefer the law require opt-in consent for facial recognition, but would take a sign over nothing.

I agree, the least we should hope for is an informational warning with details of what data is being collected, like the agreements we click to sign with social networking sites that most people don't bother to read....

Are there any laws that protect minors from this form of tracking and data collection?

Seems like it falls under COPPA

The article mentions that Food Link and Giant (both part of Ahold Delhaize USA) are two supermarkets that responded to the ACLU survey saying that they do not use face recognition. I searched around and found the more complete list of companies' responses: https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-technology/surveillance-te... (near the bottom). The tl;dr though is that most companies refused to answer.

Did you mean "Food Lion"?

I have always found those cameras in the Walmart self check-out lines extremely sketchy. They DO NOT need to be there.

Time to start buying everything used. There's enough crap out there that whatever you need, someone else is probably already trying to get rid of it. Let them take the tracking hit.

Gonna pass on used food.

They will get you somewhere.

Grow your own food! ;)

Even more reason to shop online..

Though just not going outside is not a solution, we definitely need legislation for this.

Note that unless you're explicitly blocking it — you're giving away much more information when you shop online than with facial recognition in a physical store.

Cash is one of the last remaining bastions of true transactional privacy (and of course, with some legwork and a warrant, law enforcement can connect the dots).

This is is the same thing that tends to bother me about people worrying about hackers spying on them via built-in webcam. Unless there's a very specific reason for it, they simply don't need to. Tracking your data/activity/input is easier and much more valuable.

Note that unless you're explicitly blocking it — you're giving away much more information when you shop online than with facial recognition in a physical store.

I'm not sure that's true -- cameras can track you around the store, seeing how long you linger at each product display, recording every time you reach out to touch a product. Which seems similar to the information online merchants can collect.

One thing they can collect in the store that they can't as easily track online (unless you're sending product links around) is who you are shopping with -- they can see that you come to the store with your friend, spouse, or children.

Google/Facebook and others know how long you look at a specific post/ad/video/etc and knows who you're with, even when in a private residence.

If you're in someone's house on their wifi network and they're shopping for socks... you might start seeing ads about socks. It's way easier to track this based on network information than creating facial recognition databases.

A lot of the "Facebook is listening to your conversation" fears stem from the fact that people don't realize that they can use data to make connections like this.

If you're remotely concerned about privacy, at the very least Facebook should not have an app on your phone (Google's doing it too).

This is absolutely an invasion of our privacy, tracking our every move, but is shopping online any better? The only real difference is that online they can't track your face, and in real life they can't link you to your taste in pornography.

Well, I wonder if they can link you to your taste in pornography? Facial recognition detects you keep showing up in the adult health aisle in Walmart every few weeks for condoms and lubrication. Also facial recognition noticed you spend 15% more time looking in the direction of other males verses females we predict there is a 74% chance that you are homosexual. I agree facial recognition is an invasion of privacy and seems to have all sorts of bad uses. I hope we as a society at least limit corporations from using it against us. I highly doubt we will stop the government from using it but we don't need Walmart tracking us.

> I highly doubt we will stop the government from

Self-fulfilling prophecy.

The only real difference is that online they can't track your face, and in real life they can't link you to your taste in pornography.

Are you sure?

They can ask for your phone number at purchase or they can use your credit card number to link you to your online profile.

As long as adblockers and multiple browser profiles aren’t illegal I’m okay with this.

But face-obscuring masks will almost certainly be banned. What are our other recourses?

I have wondered about this as well. Sometimes when entering Walmart I intentionally look way down as to try avoid any part of my face on their main camera. I know they have other cameras in the store but as a small for of protest I like to avoid that first cam.

A lot of the time the obvious cameras are the fake ones.

How is this better? I need to give out my address and my credit card information.

> Though just not going outside is not a solution, we definitely need legislation for this.

Eh... should I remind you about NSA, CIA, FBI? Do you seriously trust the government with this tech? And even if you did, how do you think you'll regulate something anyone can download for free and run on their $50 computer?

This reminds me of that facial recognition shopping scene in Minority Report


Of course I thought this movie looked 100 years in the future, not 15

All the advertisement screens in the Copenhagen metro have cameras now, in addition to the security cameras.

Any good source one can read on this? How does that square with GDPR?

I don't know if anyone's written about it. I don't even know if they're on, I've just noticed that they all have small but obvious cameras. They're marked ClearChannel, so I assume they own the boards and cameras.

Face recognition is a publicly available built-in feature of security cameras market leaders s.a Motorolla, Honeywell, Hikvision and probably more. Had been so for quite the time (1 year? 2 years?). So I'm not sure how the word "secretive" made its way into this piece.

It's a way to make the headline more appealing without changing the article. Another good use of this is "quietly."


I wonder what happens if you paint an additional pair of eyes on your cheeks.

Is no one selling glasses or whatever that can crew up the cameras? I remember seeing proof on concept things a couple of years back.

I would think with this technology and the right implementation, there would be no need for jails in the distant future.

I don't think I follow.

Bob killed his neighbor. On camera, recorded for all to see.

Now you're saying we can continue letting Bob walk around, just because the camera will see it again?

I don't mean to be insulting, I don't get what you're trying to say.

I think they're suggesting that Bob won't kill his neighbor if he's on camera.

Thanks for explaining. But there are bank robberies today. And everyone knows banks have cameras. :)

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