Big Brother Watch claims supermarket biometric scans of “thousands of shoppers” is “unlawful” and “Orwellian in the extreme.”
Privacy rights group Big Brother Watch issued a statement last Tuesday stating they had filed a legal complaint with the Information Commissioner claiming that Southern Co-operative’s use of live facial recognition cameras in its supermarkets is “unlawful”. The legal complaint, sent via the group’s lawyers from data rights firm AWO, claims that the use of the biometric cameras “is infringing the data rights of a significant number of UK data subjects”.
Southern Co-operative supermarkets use facial recognition software with surveillance cameras from Chinese state-owned firm Hikvision, which also provides cameras for the CCP’s concentration camps in Xinjiang and has been associated with serious security flaws. The firm is banned from operating in the US and a group of senior parliamentarians recently urged the Government to ban the cameras from the UK.
Big Brother Watch is a UK civil liberties campaign group fighting for a free future. “We’re determined to reclaim our privacy and defend freedoms at this time of enormous technological change. And we fight to win,” their website states.
As reported by Ethical Consumer in January 2021, reports suggested that the controversial surveillance system was rolled out in select stores overseen by the Southern Co-operative as part of a “trial” since mid-2019.
Despite the use of facial recognition by police forces being deemed controversial with the Court of Appeal ruling parts of its use to be unlawful in August 2020, its use has been creeping into the private sector and the true scale of its use remains unknown.