Frasers Group criticised for live facial recognition programme

Occurred: April 2023

A group of UK politicians, peers and civil rights groups have condemned Frasers Group for its use of live facial recognition across its businesses, including Sports Direct, Frasers, and Jack Wills.

The Facewatch system is intended to identify shoplifters from a database of actual and suspected criminals, and ensure safety, alerting staff when a suspect enters one of Fraser Group's stores. 

However, rights groups Big Brother Watch, Liberty and Privacy International, together with over 50 parliamentarians and peers, wrote (pdf) to Frasers Group CEO Michael Murray that the technology is inherently 'invasive and discriminatory' and 'treats everyone who passes the camera like a potential criminal.'

Frasers Group responded by saying its system was more accurate than the 87 percent associated with the Met Police highlighted by the campaigners, and that the UK Information Commissioner's Office had said Facewatch's use was lawful. 

Operator: Frasers Group
Developer: Facewatch

Country: UK

Sector: Retail

Purpose: Identify criminals

Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy

Transparency: Governance

Legal, regulatory 👩🏼‍⚖️

Page info
Type: Issue
Published: May 2023
Last updated: June 2024