NYC Fairway Market: The Fairway Upper West Side location is using facial recognition technology to stop shoplifters, raising concern

New York — smiling! You are in front of the camera.

For customers at a New York City supermarket chain, the message sounds a lot like this: Customers’ “biometric” data may be collected.

As a way to prevent shoplifting, the Upper West Side location of famed New York City grocer Fairway uses facial recognition technology and other biometric collection tools, including voice recording, to catch repeat offenders.

Privacy concerns were raised after a banner was posted at the front of the store: “This business collects, maintains, transfers, stores, or shares customers’ biometric ID information, information that can be used to identify you or help identify you.”

According to Fairway in a statement, the technology “helps our store reduce retail crime.”

See also | The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is experimenting with facial recognition at several new airports

This news comes as shoplifting continues to rise across the country. Retailers like Walgreens, Target, and Walmart have stores in certain cities because of this.

“This is not a city where you can walk into a store, take whatever you want, and walk out,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in response to the growing number of complaints of theft in the city. In New York, complaints jumped to more than 63,000 last year.

Dozens of major retailers are said to be using facial recognition to catch shoplifters, including entertainment venues such as First Energy Stadium in Cleveland, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and Citi Field in New York.

“It’s very, very difficult to find a pin in a haystack, so to speak, in a big place or big events,” said Scott Spiro, a cybersecurity expert and co-founder of Sugarshot. “Yeah, I think you’ll continue to see technology distributed.”

Recently, the owner of Madison Square Garden came under fire for using facial recognition to identify and remove people.

“There are pros and cons,” Spiro continued, “for law enforcement some huge, huge positives.” “On the downside and on the troubling side, we have a real potential challenge of how this data can be used, especially if it gets into the wrong hands.”

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