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New York’s Amazon Go stores failed to properly alert customers they were being biometrically tracked, lawsuit claims

Amazon is facing a lawsuit alleging the company failed to properly inform customers entering its Amazon Go stores in New York that it was tracking and collecting their biometric information.

The lawsuit claims the e-commerce giant violated a New York City law passed in early 2021 that requires companies that collect, store or share ‘biometric credentials’ to post signs near their entrances. alerting customers that they are doing so.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of buyer Alfredo Rodriguez Perez.

Amazon Go Store
A woman walks past an Amazon Go store on March 6, 2023 in New York City.

Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images

Amazon Go stores, which opened for the first time in 2018, use what the company calls its “Just Walk Out technology”. Shoppers scan a mobile app and then are tracked using “computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning” technology as they place items in their shopping carts, the company says on its website.

There are no cashiers and no need to checkout. Instead, shoppers simply walk out of the store and their Amazon accounts are debited when they leave.

“Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are removed from or returned to shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual shopping cart,” Amazon’s website says.

The lawsuit alleges that Amazon Go collects biometric information about shoppers “by scanning certain customers’ palms to identify them and applying computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion that measure the shape and each customer’s body size to identify customers, track where they move in stores, and determine what they purchased.”

The lawsuit argues that since New York City began enacting its notification law in January 2021, Amazon Go stores “have not displayed any signs” informing shoppers that they were collecting this biometric information.

However, following a March 10 article in The New York Times about companies’ use of facial recognition technology, Amazon Go stores in New York City released their first notice boards on March 14, according to the lawsuit.

The signs read, “Biometric information collected at this location,” the suit said.

In a statement provided to CBS News on Saturday in response to the lawsuit, an Amazon spokesperson said Amazon Go stores “do not use facial recognition technology.”

“Amazon One, our palm-based contactless identity and payment service, is one of the entry options offered at select Amazon Go stores along with the credit card and the Amazon app,” the statement said. . “Only shoppers who choose to enroll in Amazon One and choose to be identified by waving their palm over the Amazon One device have their palm biometric data securely collected, and those individuals receive the privacy information during the registration process. The customer is always in control of when they choose to be identified using their palm. In addition, the Just Walk Out technology used to distinguish buyers from each other does not is not biometric and is only used to link a customer to their purchases during a single store visit.


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