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Case: Amazon Go stores did not properly warn customers of biometric tracking

Amazon is facing a lawsuit alleging that the company did not properly notify customers entering its Amazon Go store in New York City 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 customers to post signage near their entrances to warn them to collect, store or share “biometric identifying information.”

The suit was filed Thursday in the 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 Store, which first open In 2018, use what the company calls “Just Walk Out Technology.” Shoppers scan a mobile app and are then tracked using “computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning” technology as they place items in their cart, the company says on its website.

No cashier and no need to checkout. Instead, shoppers simply walk out of the store and their Amazon account is charged when they leave.

“Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken off the shelf or returned and tracks them in a virtual cart,” Amazon’s website reads.

The lawsuit alleges that Amazon Go collects customers’ biometric information by “scanning their palms to identify certain customers and applying computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion to measure each customer’s body size and shape to identify customers, track where They do. They go to the store and decide what they bought.”

The suit argues that since New York City began enacting its notification law in January 2021, Amazon Go stores have “failed to post any signs” informing shoppers that it is collecting such biometric information.

However, following a March 10 story in the New York Times about the use of facial recognition technology by businesses — Amazon Go stores in New York City posted their first notification signs on March 14, the lawsuit claims.

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

In a statement 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 contactless, palm-based identity and payment service, is one of the access options offered at select Amazon Go stores, including credit cards and the Amazon app,” the statement said. “Only shoppers who choose to enroll in Amazon One and choose to be identified by swiping their palm on an Amazon One device have their palm-biometric data securely collected, and these individuals are provided appropriate privacy disclosures during the enrollment process. When they Those who choose to identify using their palm are always in control. Additionally, the Just Walk Out technology used to differentiate shoppers from one another is not biometric, and is only used to link a customer to their purchase during a store visit.”

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