Major Supermarket chains, including Sainsbury's, Tesco, Morrisons and even the Co-op are installing systems that capture and store your biometric data, including facial scans and gate analysis. The systems are being trialled in a number of stores across the country with most shoppers unaware they are being targeted.
The trials were organized at various points during 2022 in a number of cities in England, including Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, and Nottingham, where Trent University teamed up with local bars to monitor students buying alcoholic beverages. None of those involved were asked for their consent, and no assurances were given that their data would be deleted after the trial had finished.
The public only got a chance to learn more about the whole thing late last year when the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) released the results of the Home Office sandbox trials that involved two methods – digital ID apps, and self-scan checkouts.
The findings of the trial cover results from digital ID app 1account, supermarket chain Asda – which used facial scan tech self-service checkouts, as did Co-op, and Innovative Technology (with its ICU age verification method), as well as Fujitsu, which developed an app, the same as MBJ Technology.
Morrisons, another supermarket chain, participated by trialing facial scan technology developed by Yoti, and Tesco and Spinningfields and Oxford Road stores turned to the same “digital identity company” and its “AI” algorithm in order to participate in the trials. Whilst finger vein biometrics were at play when FinGo deployed its tech at Manchester’s Hatch, which brings together retailers, breweries, restaurants, etc.
According to reports the outcome of the trials were 'inconclusive'. But looking a little deeper the inconclusive results were merely technical difficulties with things like lighting conditions, wi-fi signal or phone battery strength being cited as the cause. Nowhere in the trial is there any mention of the moral, legal or ethical issues involved, these are a given.
"you will have no privacy, own nothing, and you will be happy"
The digital ID company Yoti, who are carrying out many of the trails on behalf of the UK government, posted on its site that the supermarkets were supportive of the idea of using biometrics as a way to verify shoppers’ age – as well as for legislation that would lead to its adoption. Yoti is optimistic all round, but then it would be, they are likely to make billions from the tech rollout.
According to Yoti
"the retail chains liked it, the customers liked it, and would be glad to have their faces scanned and biometric data given up again at supermarket checkouts."