Amazon is facing a lawsuit alleging the company failed to properly notify customers entering its Amazon Go stores in New York that it was tracking and collecting their biometric information.
The lawsuit alleges the e-commerce giant violated New York’s rules the right passed in early 2021, which requires businesses that collect, store or share “biometric identifier information” to post signs near their entrances warning customers about it.
The lawsuit 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 stores which opened for the first time in 2018 to use what the company calls its “Just Walk Out technology.” Shoppers scan the mobile app and are then tracked using “computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning” technology as they place items in their carts, the company said says on its website.
There are no cashiers and you don’t need to cash out. Instead, shoppers simply leave the store and their Amazon accounts are charged when they leave.
“Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken off the shelf or returned to the shelf and tracks them in a virtual cart,” according to Amazon’s website.
The lawsuit alleges that Amazon Go collects shoppers’ biometric information “by scanning the palms of certain customers to identify them, and by applying computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion that measure the shape and size of each customer’s body to identify customers, track where they shop and identify what they’ve purchased.”
The lawsuit alleges that since New York began passing the notification law in January 2021, Amazon Go stores “have not posted any signs” notifying shoppers of the collection of such biometric information.
However, after March 10 history in the New York Times about businesses’ use of facial recognition technology — Amazon Go stores in New York posted their first notification signs on March 14, the lawsuit alleges.
The signs read, “Biometric information collected at this location,” the lawsuit said.
In a statement provided 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 identification and payment service in the palm of your hand, is one of the sign-in options offered at select Amazon Go stores along with a credit card and the Amazon app,” it said in a statement. “Only shoppers who choose to sign up for Amazon One and choose to be identified by pointing their palm at an Amazon One device have their palm biometrics securely collected, and those individuals are provided with appropriate privacy statements during the sign-up process. The customer is always in control when they choose to identify with their palm. Additionally, the Just Walk Out technology used to distinguish shoppers from one another is non-biometric and is only used to link a customer to their purchases during a single store visit.”