Tesco set to introduce Face Recognition Technology

Tesco are set to ‘change the face of British retail’ with the installation of face-scanning technology at their petrol stations. The technology (created by Amscreen) aims to segment customers by gender and approximate age in order to show advertisements targeted to a specific demographic.

According to The Grocer, this is the beginning of a 5 year deal, where the hi-tech screens will be introduced across all 450 petrol stations aiming to reach a weekly audience of 5 million adults.

The screens will be positioned at the till point, scanning customers eyes in order to determine the customers age and gender. Adverts will then be shown in correspondence with the identified customer. The technology will also be used in order to monitor buying behaviour and product popularity.

These technological advances have received ethical criticism as ‘privacy campaigners say the system puts forward a huge consent issue’. Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch said: “Scanning customers as they walk through the store without customers ever giving permission for them to be scanned in that way … there’s a huge consent issue there. If people were told that every time they walked into a supermarket, or a doctor’s surgery or a law firm, that the CCTV camera in the corner is trying to find out who they are, I think that will have a huge impact on what buildings people go into. ” He also adds that the only way the systems such as these can be ethically deployed is if consumers opt in to have their image stored and their behaviour tracked. Tesco have stated that the images will not be stored, so the customer’s identity will remain anonymous.

But have Tesco gone too far in order to target their customers? Would you be happy to have your image captured in order to watch adverts supposedly tailored for you?