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Frasers Group criticised over ‘invasive’ and ‘discriminatory’ in-store facial recognition tech

Sports Direct store front

Around 50 MPs have written to Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, the parent company of House of Fraser and Sports Direct, criticising the use of live facial recognition cameras in its stores.

According to The Guardian, the group of MPs and peers, including David Davis, Tim Farron and John McDonnell have called for an end to the use of the facial recognition cameras across the UK, describing the technology as “invasive and discriminatory”.

“Live facial recognition [LFR] technology has well-evidenced issues with privacy, inaccuracy, and race and gender discrimination. LFR inverts the vital democratic principle of suspicion preceding surveillance and treats everyone who passes the camera like a potential criminal,” the letter states.

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“The technology obtains the facial biometric data – information as sensitive as a fingerprint – of every customer entering the store to check them against your privately created watchlist. This is the equivalent of performing an identity check on every single customer.”

This letter, which has also been signed by privacy groups Big Brother Watch, Liberty and Privacy International, comes as Sports Direct and Flannels, two of the brands operated by the group, were already using the cameras in at least 27 stores.

It also argued the facial recognition technology is also “inaccurate and ineffective”.

According to the letter, “87% of alerts generated by the Metropolitan Police’s own live facial recognition system have been inaccurate. The poor accuracy of LFR technology also disproportionately impacts people of colour and women.”

However, previously a spokesperson for the group claimed that the surveillance is carried out to “ensure the safety of our staff and to help prevent theft”.

InternetRetailing has contacted Frasers Group for comment.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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