Is Foodstuffs’ facial recognition software a breach of privacy?

The AM Show 15/05/2018

New Zealand's largest supermarket company has quietly rolled out facial recognition CCTV technology in some of its stores. Is it a breach of privacy?

Foodstuffs, which owns New World, Pak'n'Save and Four Square, told the Otago Daily Times it makes no apology for protecting its business.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards told The AM Show that the technology “might” be a break of privacy.

“That’s a risk that the organisation is taking,” Mr Edwards said.  

However, he admits that he doesn’t know the full scope of the technology and how it’s being used.

The new software is reportedly to help protect both customers and staff, and as a tool against theft. Foodstuffs stated that signage is up to alert customers where the facial recognition technology is in use.

“Businesses are entitled to protect their property, and they are actually obliged to protect their employees and the people who are on that property.

“The question is – have they done due diligence?”

Mr Edwards said if the software misidentifies people, the technology can inevitably create more problems than it’s worth.

Watch the full interview with John Edwards above. 

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