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Barred from Grocery Stores by Facial Recognition

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A facial recognition system alerts Simon Mackenzie, a QD Stores security guard near London, when someone on a shoplifting watchlist has entered.

No longer just the purview of government agencies, facial recognition is increasingly being deployed to identify shoplifters, problematic customers, and legal adversaries.

Credit: Suzie Howell/The New York Times

The use of facial recognition by private businesses in the U.K. is on the rise, with close to 400 retailers in Britain using Facewatch to alert them to return visits by shoplifters, problem customers, and legal adversaries.

For a monthly cost starting at £250 pounds (US$320), the system allows retailers to upload images of alleged offenders from security footage, adding them to a watchlist shared among nearby stores.

Facewatch, which licenses Real Networks and Amazon's facial recognition software, checks people's biometric information as they walk into the store against a database of flagged individuals and sends smartphone alerts to retailers if there is a match.

Big Brother Watch's Madeleine Stone said Facewatch is "normalizing airport-style security checks for everyday activities like buying a pint of milk."

From The New York Times
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