Facial recognition technology is bad enough in the public sphere, but there are entirely new ways to worry oneself when you consider how it’s being used by corporate retailers and companies. The privacy non-profit advocacy group, Fight for the Future, is aiming to raise awareness on that latter, terrifying front with its new campaign, Ban Facial Recognition in Stores, which apart from its explanatory title, aims to pressure major businesses to phase out or preemptively reject the biased AI programs.
“Retailers justify using facial recognition to protect and predict their profits, but this technology puts workers in danger, exacerbates bias, and amasses personal data,” reads the campaign’s official site. “Retailers across the country that are exploring this invasive technology should know that prioritizing profit over privacy is wrong.”
Fight for the Future has teamed with over a dozen like-minded groups including Greenpeace, Tor, and Data for Black Lives to promote the effort. The project’s site also includes a list of companies that openly use facial recognition tech, along with those still on the fence or (hopefully) committed to refusing its implementation.
A growing number of companies support the ban — Although much work is still needed, according to the campaign’s website, a decent number of places have already vowed to not use facial recognition technologies and software. Walmart, Kroger, Home Depot, and Target have all pledged opposition to the tech, although there are still quite a few that have no problem with brazenly surveilling their clientele — Macy’s, Ace Hardware, and (you guessed it) Apple Stores all use some form of facial recognition, while places like McDonald’s, Best Buy, and Starbucks remain unconfirmed.
Federal legislation will likely be necessary — Fight for the Future is aiming higher than only private businesses, too. On the group’s main Ban Facial Recognition site, visitors can read House Resolution 7235, a bill seeking to prohibit the use of facial recognition tech on any images obtained by police body cameras, among other scenarios. Once on the site, you can see which (if any) of your state’s elected officials support the bill, and can email and tweet them directly from Fight for the Future’s page.
It will likely be some time before facial recognition abuse is thoroughly dealt with at a national level, but the push has to start somewhere.