Monday, May 14, 2018


Our supermarkets are spying on us:

New Zealand's largest supermarket company has quietly rolled out facial recognition CCTV technology in some of its North Island stores.

It comes after revelations a man was mistakenly identified as a shoplifter at New World and amid warnings from the Privacy Commissioner about the use of the covert surveillance technique.

The man was allegedly misidentified due to human error, and Foodstuffs NZ claimed facial recognition was not used in the South Island.

However, the
Otago Daily Times can reveal a security system that "bridges the gap between businesses and the police'' is now used at the Centre City New World in Dunedin, among other South Island stores.

The ODT identifies that system as "Auror" (yes, its a Harry Potter reference), and it is apparently used in petrol stations run by Z and Caltex and retailers like Farmers, Mitre 10, and Briscoes. It uses facial recognition as well as ANPR to alert stores when an "offender" enters the premises. Who counts as an "offender" and how reliable is that information? Only Auror knows, and they're not telling. But the result, as with other uses of facial recognition, is false-positives, which damage the user's brand.

The Privacy Commissioner is reminding retailers of the requirement to notify customers if they are using this sort of technology. But the way to stop it is to publicise the false positives, fuck the brands of the businesses using it, and make it toxic.