AnyVision biometrics rolled out in Spanish supermarkets, CMO answers bias concerns

AnyVision biometrics rolled out in Spanish supermarkets, CMO answers bias concerns

Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona is rolling out biometric facial recognition camera system in 40 stores in Costa Blanca, Mallorca and Zaragoza to block access to people who are not allowed to enter the store or be near employees, writes EuroWeekly.

The system was developed by Israeli corporation AnyVision. Mercadona says the system will only be used to detect people who received a restraining order or who have been banned by a court from supermarket premises. The facial recognition system will match the faces to images in the judicial system, to prevent robberies and theft. Information signs about the technology will be posted at store entrances.

AnyVision talks open source vs specialized facial recognition software

Facial recognition technologies have been actively criticized recently over bias claims, yet AnyVision Chief Marketing Officer Adam Devine says rejection is not the solution. Devine argues only specialized providers with proper privacy and bias prevention methods should sell facial recognition technology, writes Times of Israel.

As per a description in the Start-Up Nation Central database, the technology is used to “authenticate legitimate users and customers; detect targets; track criminals and terrorists; and locate missing persons in a wide range of settings, including banks, educational institutions, correctional facilities, airports, casinos, businesses, and special events.”

AnyVision has been involved in an alleged scandal related to a potential partnership with the Israel Defense Forces that leveraged biometric facial recognition for mass surveillance in the Palestinian territories. The company was audited on behalf of Microsoft by a team led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Microsoft divested from the company due to a change in its investment policy and despite the audit concluding the technology was not deployed to a mass surveillance system in the West Bank.

Devine did not comment on this, but claims sales were not affected.

Participating in COVID-19 relief efforts, thermal cameras developed by AnyVision, which do not include facial biometrics, have been installed at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital). The Sheba Medical Center is also using AnyVision technology to detect people not wearing a mask and hospital staff with a fever.

Devine says the ongoing criticism “is not affecting us in any in any material way right now, other than businesses and individuals are looking at our website. We are probably getting more inbound interest as people really want to understand what facial recognition is actually about.”

He hopes more educational conversation and legislation will come out of the facial recognition controversy.

“It is good that this is happening… it will force organizations like the ACLU to really understand what good face recognition is and be able to differentiate it from bad facial recognition,” Devine told Times of Israel.

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