The UK’s third-largest retailer, Tesco, has announced plans to install scanning screens at the counters of each of its 450 gas stations so that it can present advertising tailored to a customer’s approximate age and gender. According to a spokesperson for digital signage company Amscreen, it’s “not new technology…No data or images are collected or stored and the system does not use eyeball scanners or facial-recognition technology.” Amscreen CEO Simon Sugar says they plan to include the screens in their supermarkets as well.
What’s the Big Idea?
Given the amount of public surveillance that already exists, particularly in places like the UK, this could seem like just one more convenience — or inconvenience — for customers. However, privacy advocates, such as Big Brother Watch’s Nick Pickles, insist that Tesco has an ethical responsibility to let its patrons know their faces are being scanned. “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.”
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