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Amazon Go stores in New York City didn’t properly alert customers they were being biometrically tracked, lawsuit says

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Amazon Go stores in New York City didn't properly alert customers they were being biometrically tracked, lawsuit says

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 data.

The lawsuit alleges the e-commerce giant violated a New York law passed in early 2021 that requires companies that collect, store or share “biometric identification information” to post signs near their entrances warning customers of doing so.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of the buyer, Alfredo Rodriguez Perez.

Amazon Go Store
A woman walks past an Amazon Go store on March 6, 2023 in New York City.

Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images

Amazon Go stores, which first time opened in 2018, use what the company calls its “just go 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 on its website.

There is no cashier and no need to check out. Instead, customers simply walk out of the store, and their Amazon accounts are charged when they leave.

Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and tracks them in a virtual cart, according to Amazon’s website.

The lawsuit alleges that Amazon Go collects customers’ biometric information “by scanning the palms of some 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 move around stores and determine what they bought.”

The lawsuit claims that since New York City began enacting the notification law in January 2021, Amazon Go stores “have not posted any signs” notifying customers that it collects such biometric information.

However, following a March 10 New York Times story about the companies’ 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 suit says.

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 identity and palm-based payment service, is one of the options to enter select Amazon Go stores along with a credit card and the Amazon app,” it said in a statement. “Only customers who choose to enroll in Amazon One and choose to be identified by palm movement through an Amazon One device have their palm biometrics securely collected, and those individuals are given appropriate privacy disclosures during the sign-up process. The customer is always in control when they choose to be identified using their palm. In addition, the Just Walk Out technology used to distinguish customers from one another is not biometric and is only used to associate a customer with their purchases during a single store visit.”

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