Already in 2021, a law came into force in New York that requires businesses to post visible signs if they collect customer biometric information such as face scans and fingerprints. Now it’s Amazon facing a proposed class action which accuses the company of failing to inform customers at its cashless Go stores that it is collecting their biometric data.
IN court trial (PDF) filed by Alfredo Alberto Rodríguez Perez, the plaintiff alleges that Go stores routinely use customers’ biometric data “by scanning [their palms] and identify them 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 stores and determine what they have purchased.” The company said it was only putting up signs about its biometric tracking activities more than a year after the law went into effect.
Amazon’s Go stores allow shoppers to pull any product off the shelves and walk out without having to check out. To enter these stores, customers will need to scan a code from the Amazon app with a linked credit card. However, some locations offer Amazon One, the e-commerce giant’s palm-based identity and payment service, as a sign-in option. The plaintiff’s complaint said the sign informed customers that Amazon would not collect their biometric data unless they chose to sign up for Amazon One. However, “Amazon Go stores do collects biometric identifier information for each individual customer, including information about each customer’s body size and shape,” the complaint alleges.
In a statement sent to NBC News, an Amazon spokesperson defended the company’s practices and technology. They explained that Amazon does not use facial recognition, and any system it uses to identify shoppers in its Go stores does not constitute biometric technology. “Only shoppers who choose to enroll in Amazon One and choose to be identified by holding their palm over an Amazon One device have their palm biometrics securely collected,” they insisted, “and those individuals are provided the appropriate privacy during recording. process.”
The outcome of the case, then, may hinge on whether a court views someone’s body shape and size as biometric information. In the complaint, the plaintiff cited New York Administrative Code 22-1201 definition of biometric identifier in the context of the Act as “a physiological or biological characteristic that is used by or on behalf of a commercial entity, alone or in combination, to identify or assist in the identification of an individual, including but not limited to: (i ) retina or iris scan, (ii) fingerprint or voice print, (iii) hand or face geometry scan or any other identifying feature.’