Amazon is facing a class-action lawsuit for allegedly failing to notify its New York City customers that they were being monitored by facial recognition technology at its Amazon Go convenience stores.
Lawyers for Alfredo Perez filed the suit on Thursday, stating that the company did not inform store visitors that the technology was in use.
Under a 2021 law, New York is the only major U.S. city that requires businesses to display signs if they are tracking customers’ biometric information, such as facial scans or fingerprints.
That said, in order for Amazon’s Go stores to allow customers to walk in, take whatever products they want off the shelves and leave without checking out, visitors’ actions are monitored so their accounts can be charged upon leaving the store.
“To make this ‘Just Walk Out’ technology possible, the Amazon Go stores constantly collect and use customers’ biometric identifier information, including by scanning the palms of some customers to identify them and by applying computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion that measure the shape and size of each customer’s body to identify customers, track where they move in the stores, and determine what they have purchased,” the lawsuit said.
Perez is currently being represented by the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a legal advocacy group devoted to New York privacy protections.
“It means that even a global tech giant can’t ignore local privacy laws,” said the group’s project director, Albert Cahn, in a text message. “As we wait for long overdue federal privacy laws, it shows there is so much local governments can do to protect their residents.”
Photo credit: Amazon