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Many Americans aren't aware they're being tracked with facial recognition while shopping

Facial recognition
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Despite consumer opposition to facial recognition (opens in new tab), the technology is currently being used in retail stores throughout the US according to new research from Piplsay.

While San Francisco banned the police (opens in new tab) from using facial recognition back in 2019 and the EU called for a five year ban (opens in new tab) on the technology last year, several major retailers in the US including Lowe's, Albertsons and Macy's have been using it for both fraud and theft detection.

Still though, the technology is currently facing stiff opposition from advocacy groups for being too invasive according to Piplsay.

With cameras tracking the movements, behavior and emotions of retail shoppers, is too much personal information and data being given away to offer an improved customer experience (opens in new tab) and increased security?

Completely unaware

To learn more about consumer opinions and comfort levels when it comes to the use of facial recognition technology, Piplsay polled 31,184 Americans across the country to compile its new “Face-recognition tech in retail (opens in new tab)” report.

Of those surveyed, almost half (40%) were completely unaware that retailers have begun using facial recognition technology in their stores while 60 percent said they knew this technology was being deployed.

When it came to whether or not respondents supported the use of facial recognition by retailers, 42 percent said they didn't mind it while 38 percent said they were against its use in stores. Of those against its use, 22 percent said they believed facial recognition is an invasion of privacy (opens in new tab) while 16 percent said they believed it can be inaccurate or discriminatory.

Respondents to Piplsay's survey also said that stores using facial recognition should inform customers in advance that they are being tracked (69%) while a similar percentage (65%) said that stores using this technology should provide customers with a way to opt-out (opens in new tab).

While it makes sense for Amazon's cashier-less Amazon Go (opens in new tab) convenience stores to use facial recognition, the same can't be said for retailers when using the technology offers no immediate benefit to consumers.

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After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.