Flannels using ‘invasive’ facial recognition cameras in Meadowhall despite protests
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Stickers on doors state ‘facial recognition and CCTV in operation on this site for the protection of customers, employees and the community'. The operator is Facewatch, which claims to be ‘the leader in facial recognition’.
Last month, nearly 50 MPs and human rights organisations called on parent company Frasers Group to stop using it. They described the use of the surveillance equipment, which they say obtains facial biometric data and compares it to privately-created watchlists, as ‘invasive and discriminatory’. Frasers Group also runs House of Fraser and Sports Direct, which has a shop on The Moor.
The firm did not respond to questions about how long it had been in use, where the images were stored and whether its use was within Home Office guidelines requiring it to be ‘clearly justified and proportionate’.
A Meadowhall spokeswoman said: “As this is within the confines of the Flannels store they don’t need Meadowhall’s consent.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said they had had no involvement.
The move sparked debate among readers with one asking, “Is facial recognition legal?”
On Twitter, ‘The Dog Man’ said: “People who have done something wrong are the only ones with the problem.”
Yardy Crowe agreed: “Definitely a great idea. This could help and prevent a lot of incidents.”
But Jacob said: “You don't think having your face tagged and stored on some company's computers so you can be tracked across however many locations use that service is concerning at all?”
Campaigning group Big Brother Watch states: “Police and private companies in the UK have been quietly rolling out facial recognition surveillance cameras, taking ‘faceprints’ of millions of people — often without you knowing about it. This is an enormous expansion of the surveillance state — and it sets a dangerous precedent worldwide.”
Frasers Group previously stated facial recognition was to protect staff and prevent theft. It added: “Since installing this technology, we have seen a significant reduction in the number of criminal offences taking place in our stores.
“We take our responsibilities around the use of facial recognition extremely seriously and this technology is clearly signposted to customers wherever we have installed it.”