Fascinating to see a consciously an ethical not-for-profit UK retailer (Co-op) deploy tech that scans customer's faces in real-time, converts the images into numerical data and then compares them against a watchlist of known shoplifters and violent customers to see if there’s a match. Civil liberties advocates and regulators are, in-turn, watching the Co-Op.
“Only images of individuals known to have offended within our premises, including those who have been banned/excluded, are used on our facial recognition platform,” the spokesperson says. “Using facial recognition in this limited way has improved the safety of our store colleagues.” Southern Co-op says there has been an 80 per cent increase in assaults and violence against store staff this year and the “number one” reason why this happens is when staff try to apprehend shoplifters. “This gives our colleagues time to decide on any action they need to take, for example, asking them to politely leave the premises or notifying police if this is a breach of a banning order,” the spokesperson says. They add it is not planning on rolling out the tech to all of its Southern Co-op stores.