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Targeted advertising through face-scanning technology

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IT Security & Support Specialist for Small and Medium Businesses

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Tesco has made the move to install face-scanning technology to target adverts at individual customers. The company will be rolling out these screens across 450 of its petrol stations and will be located at the till.

Developed by Amscreen, Lord Sugar’s digital signage company, the screens will identify a customer’s gender and approximate age with the use of a camera. It will then display an advert designed to target that particular demographic.

Simon Sugar, Chief Executive of Amscreen, said that, ‘it’s like something out of Minority Report […]but this could change the face of British retail, and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible’.

This had led to privacy campaigners calling for the companies, using such technology, to inform their customers.

Nick Pickles, Big Brother Watch, commented,

‘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 […] Systems could only be ethically deployed if customers agreed to opt in to having their behaviour tracked’.

However, Philip James, Head of Technology at Pitmans law firm, argues that the technology is no different to the way in which social media tailors ads based on their interests and ‘likes’.

Tesco have also assured that ‘no data or images are collected or stored and the systems does not use eyeball scanners or facial-recognition technology’.

Despite this reassurance many people are opposed to the idea of technology scanning their image and deem it an invasion of their privacy. Perhaps this is because it is a step closer to companies using facial–recognition or perhaps it is because the general public would be unaware if such technology was being used.

Could new legislation governing the way in which companies use face-scanning technology and their need to disclose this information, put peoples’ minds at rest?

Source: BBC News

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