Flaw with Foodstuffs facial recognition

It has been revealed that Foodstuffs supermarkets are using facial recognition to try to recognise shoplifters after a Dunedin man was incorrectly identified. Foodstuffs claims this was ‘human error’ .

ODT: Foodstuffs using facial recognition

Inquiries about a Dunedin man mistakenly identified as a shoplifter at New World have led to the revelation that New Zealand’s largest supermarket company  has quietly rolled out facial recognition CCTV technology in some of its North Island stores.

The man was allegedly mistakenly identified due to human error, and Foodstuffs NZ claimed facial recognition was not used in the South Island. However, the Otago Daily Times can reveal a different security system that “bridges the gap between businesses and the police” is now used at the Centre City New World in Dunedin, among other South Island stores.

Dunedin mechanic Daniel Ryan said he was recently taken aside by staff shortly after entering the Centre City New World in Great King St, owned by Foodstuffs. He alleged he was taken into a side room and questioned by staff, who said he had been identified as a known shoplifter.

Mr Ryan said the staff then realised he had been mis-identified and he received an apology from the company. While he appreciated the apology, the experience left him feeling humiliated.

“It’s quite bruising to be shuffled off to the side.”

This is disgraceful.

Foodstuffs head of external relations Antoinette Laird said “human error” had led to Mr Ryan being mistakenly identified as a shoplifter. Asked if Centre City New World was using a facial recognition surveillance system, Ms Laird said the technology was used in some of its stores, but none in Dunedin.

“A handful of stores in the North Island have facial recognition CCTV technology as part of their security system.

“We cannot provide specific store detail.”

Facial recognition technology is widely used by retailers overseas.

Supermarkets already have the ability to profile shoppers via the use of ‘loyalty’ cards. What next? In store promotions targeting face recognised shoppers?

That would be insidious, but nowhere near as bad as incorrectly identifying someone and falsely accusing them of being a shop lifter.

Whether New World in Dunedin use face recognition ‘security’ or not this incident raises an alarming issue.

I sometimes shop at Centre City New World. I will think carefully about whether I want to be observed in this way while shopping.


China’s surveillance technology – 大哥

China is moving rapidly towards a 大哥 society. How long until Big Bro?

Public surveillance cameras and face recognition technology are already being used increasingly around the world, but China is set to implement Big Brother on a massive scale.

BBC:  In Your Face: China’s all-seeing state

China has been building what it calls “the world’s biggest camera surveillance network”. Across the country, 170 million CCTV cameras are already in place and an estimated 400 million new ones will be installed in the next three years.

Many of the cameras are fitted with artificial intelligence, including facial recognition technology.

Washington Post: China’s intrusive, ubiquitous, scary surveillance technology

Human Rights Watch reported on Dec. 13 that Chinese authorities have been collecting DNA samples, blood types, fingerprints and iris scans, in some cases possibly without informing people, from a large swath of the population in the restive Xinjiang province in far northwestern China.

Ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang have long complained about repression and discrimination at the hands of the Chinese government; resentment has sometimes turned violent.

According to Human Rights Watch, in a procedure rolled out this year, the authorities there are collecting the DNA and blood-type information under the cover of a “free annual physical exams program called Physicals for All.”

For several years now, China has been building out a system known as the social credit score, which collects information on the behavior of individuals from data such as financial transactions, shopping habits, social media and interactions with friends, as well as other indicators such as traffic tickets and unpaid bills, and computes a single loyalty or “trust” score for each individual.

The authorities plan to make the system mandatory for the whole country by 2020.

I guess we just have to hope this doesn’t spread to other countries.

Big Bro?