Amazon Go fails to inform NYC customers about facial recognition

Occurred: March 2023

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A pair of lawsuits allege that Amazon failed to inform customers about its use of facial and body biometrics scanning at its cashierless Go retail stores in New York for over a year. 

According to a class-action lawsuit filed by Rodriguez Perez, Amazon had not informed him that his body and palm were scanned. Another suit, filed in February 2023 by Richard McCall, claims his palm was scanned.

Both are alleged to be in violation of New York City's 2021 Biometric Identifier Information Law. The law requires all New York City businessses to post a sign informing customers or visitors that their biometrics are being recorded.

Amazon denied the claims, telling Gizmodo, 'We do not use facial recognition technology in any of our stores, and claims made otherwise are false.' 'Only shoppers who choose to enroll in Amazon One and choose to be identified by hovering their palm over the Amazon One device have their palm-biometric data securely collected, and these individuals are provided the appropriate privacy disclosures during the enrollment process,' it said.

First launched in 2018, Amazon Go is supposed to showcase the company's automated Just Walk Out system, which it says uses computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion to track consumers’ 'virtual carts' to notate when they put an item in their cart or take it off the tab if they remove it.

In 2023, Amazon announced it would close eight Amazon Go stores in Seattle, New York City and San Francisco.

Operator: Amazon
Developer: Amazon

Country: USA

Sector: Retail

Purpose: Verify identity

Technology: Facial recognition; Computer vision; Deep learning
Issue: Privacy

Transparency: Governance; Privacy; Marketing