Kohler, BMW, MaxMara called out for using facial recognition to track Chinese shoppers

Occurred: March 2021

Bathroom fixture maker Kohler, fashion house MaxMara and BMW were singled out by the Chinese authorities for covertly using facial recognition to monitor and analyse shopper movements in their mainland China stores. 

CCTV alleged the three companies had failed to inform or gain permission from visitors to their stores that they were being surveilled and their facial images analysed and matched. 

Chinese national data privacy legislation that started on January 1, 2021, requires that user are informed and their consent is given when private and sensitive is collected and processed.

The allegations about the three companies were made during events marking China's annual Consumer Rights Day.

Operator: Kohler; BMW; MaxMara

Developer: Unclear/unknown

Country: China

Sector: Retail

Purpose: Understand shopper behaviour
Technology: Facial recognition

Issue: Privacy; Security
Transparency: Governance; Privacy

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Published: March 2021
Last updated: January 2022