According to a lawsuit submitted on Thursday, Amazon failed to inform its customers in New York City that they were being watched by facial recognition software.

Attorneys for Alfredo Perez claimed in a class-action lawsuit that the business neglected to inform customers of Amazon Go convenience stores that the technology was being used. Thanks to a 2021 law, New York is the only significant American city that mandates businesses display signs if they are collecting customers’ biometric data, like fingerprints or facial scans.

In 2018, Amazon unveiled its Go stores, promising that patrons could stroll in, grab whatever they desired from the shelves, and depart without paying. When customers exit the store, their accounts are charged based on the company’s observation of their behavior. According to its website, it started operating in New York the following year and now has 10 shops, all in Manhattan.

More than a year after the disclosure law went into effect, the lawsuit claims that Amazon has only recently posted signs alerting New York customers of its use of facial recognition technology. A request for comment from Amazon was not quickly complied with.

According to the lawsuit, Amazon Go must constantly watch customers’ bodies in order to effectively track them and the items they take.

According to the statement, “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 Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a legal advocacy organization dedicated to New York privacy protections, is Perez’s legal counsel.

Project director Albert Cahn texted, “It signifies that even a global tech giant can’t ignore local privacy rules. As we wait for long overdue federal privacy laws, it is clear that municipal governments have a lot of power to safeguard their citizens.


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