Amazon is facing a class action lawsuit alleging that the retailer failed to alert Amazon Go customers in New York City that they were being monitored by biometric tracking technology, including facial recognition. The suit states Amazon is in violation of a 2021 law that requires businesses in the city to post signs informing customer that they’re tracking shoppers’ biometric information.
The law took effect in January 2022 but Amazon didn’t put up signs regarding its use of biometric tracking technology in Amazon Go stores until March 2023, according to the lawsuit. The suit also claims that plaintiff Alfredo Rodriguez Perez, who is being represented by the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, sent a letter to Amazon regarding the violation on Feb. 7, 2023 but never received a response.
Additionally, the suit alleges that the posted signage fails to comply with New York City’s regulations. The highlighted issues include failing to disclose that Amazon converts and retains biometric identifier information and saying that Amazon will not collect information on customers unless they use the Amazon One palm scanner to enter the store — even though it collects biometric data from all customers who use the location.
However, Amazon holds that the claims made in the lawsuit are false.
“We do not use facial recognition technology in any of our stores, and claims made otherwise are false,” said an Amazon spokesperson in a statement shared with Retail TouchPoints. “Amazon One, our contactless, palm-based identity and payment service, is one of the entry options offered at select Amazon Go stores along with credit card and the Amazon app. Only shoppers who choose to enroll in Amazon One and choose to be identified by hovering their palm over the Amazon One device have their palm-biometric data securely collected, and these individuals are provided the appropriate privacy disclosures during the enrollment process. The customer is always in control of when they choose to be identified using their palm.”
Amazon Go stores have been operating in New York City since 2019, when the city’s first location (the twelfth overall) opened in lower Manhattan’s Brookfield Place. The concept’s presence in New York has since expanded to 10 stores, including a combination store opened in partnership with Starbucks.