11:18 am today 

Inquiries about a Dunedin man mistakenly identified as a shoplifter at a New World has revealed that New Zealand's largest supermarket company has rolled out facial recognition CCTV technology in some of its North Island stores.

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Photo: 123RF

The man was allegedly mistakenly identified due to human error, and Foodstuffs NZ claimed facial recognition was not used in the South Island.

However, the Otago Daily Times reports a different security system that "bridges the gap between businesses and the police" is now used at the Centre City New World in Dunedin, among other South Island stores.

Dunedin mechanic Daniel Ryan said he was recently taken aside by staff shortly after entering the Centre City New World in Great King Street, owned by Foodstuffs. He said he was taken into a side room and questioned by staff, who said he had been identified as a known shoplifter.

Mr Ryan said the staff then realised he had been misidentified and he received an apology from the company. While he said he appreciated the apology, the experience left him feeling humiliated.

"It's quite bruising to be shuffled off to the side."

Foodstuffs head of external relations Antoinette Laird said "human error" had led to Mr Ryan being mistakenly identified as a shoplifter. Asked if Centre City New World was using a facial recognition surveillance system, Ms Laird said the technology was used in some of its stores, but none in Dunedin.

"A handful of stores in the North Island have facial recognition CCTV technology as part of their security system.

"We cannot provide specific store detail."

Centre City New World, Dunedin

Centre City New World, Dunedin Photo: Screenshot / GoogleMaps

Facial recognition technology is widely used by retailers overseas.

The Guardian has reported 59 percent of fashion retailers in the United Kingdom use facial tracking, which captured the faces of shoppers, before cross-referencing their biometric data with known criminals. The technology is also prevalent in China, where local governments use it to track people in public places.

Foodstuffs owns the New World, Pak'n Save and Four Square supermarkets.

While Centre City New World did not use automatic facial recognition, the store employed the "Auror" security system, Ms Laird said.

"This system captures images, licence plate numbers etc., enabling our loss prevention staff to identify offenders more easily and get on top of theft."

Started in New Zealand, Auror offers software platforms designed to "help police and retail businesses collaborate and fight crime," according to its website.

Auror content and communications manager Kevin Ptak said the company's software used images from CCTV cameras to track "repeat offenders".

"It's used in the back office."

Z Energy was also an Auror client, employing its software to automatically identify the licence plates of vehicles linked to fuel theft drive-offs and alert attendants.

The company's name was inspired by the Harry Potter series of books by J. K. Rowling, Mr Ptak said.

In the books, Auror is a title used by witches and wizards tasked with magical law enforcement.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner was not aware of any supermarkets in New Zealand using facial recognition technology before the Otago Daily Times informed it of the practice last week.

A spokesman for the commissioner said he strongly encouraged supermarkets considering using the technology to undertake a "privacy impact assessment," and urged anyone unhappy about having their face automatically identified to speak up.

"We would expect to see signage and messages informing customers that the technology is in use, and what their information will be used for.

"If individuals feel their privacy has been breached by this technology, they should complain to the supermarket first. If they are unsatisfied with the outcome of that complaint, they can complain to our office."

This story originally appeared in the Otago Daily Times.

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Once human cloning takes off its going to be pointless anyway. Apparently mine is a proper god fearing Christian which is lucky for me really.

I wonder if people think Im joking? :-)

No Joke

even identical twins have different fingerprints

I knew a guy on the North Shore back in the 80s that had a complete identical living in the same neighbourhood. One was constantly in trouble with the cops and the other was constantly being dragged in for questioning by accident. Was a freaky story, something like the one involved in crime stole the identity of the good guy and commited worse and worse crimes.

So in this day and age if he was a proper clone and not just an accidental doppleganger I dont even know if a DNA test would help. (Im completely suspicious on the whole accidental dopplegangers line BTW).

Transhumanism has serious implications...

Oh I believe it CP but hey, wot happens if one gets bells palsy and one side of their face droops, will their clone automaticly get bells palsy too. Don't answer that..the bells palsy probably brought on and caused remotely in any case. Read somewhere recently Angelina Jolie kept outa public eye after Brad split cuz she had bp for several mths.

Yeah R Cat Im not sure I believe the whole story about how if you do stuff to one clone it immediately affects the other...but inevitable they would have similar health issues.
As for Angelina, oh dear me her whole life story smacks of mind control. And Brad, poor guy got wrapped up in something there sometimes having a pretty face aint the best karma in this world.
Seen a dead ringer for Brad Pitt wandering around Whangarei a few years back. Only he looked about 10 years younger than the "real" Brad. Girls gonna notice that one. LOL.
...was really spooky though, seriously weird.

Rose I think the legal requirement for sign-posting cameras only applies if you want to use the video or images as evidence in court. Much like phone conversations that are recorded, unless you are notified they cannot be admitted as evidence but making the recordings in public areas, (not say for example a toilet or somewhere where you would expect privacy)is itself not illegal. If I'm wrong can someone please give a link to the legislation?

Clearly the proposed cashless society wont be implemented until the bugs and flaws in biometric identification have been ironed out. Anyone that has the latest iPhone will know they already cant even send a text without first opening their phone with a face scan...Never mind the micro-chip, your face is where its at...
Clones by the way don't suffer from quantum entanglement(what affects one wont effect the other..)but then that's just from my experience with my clone...

privacy act 1993 http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0028/latest/DLM29740...

You will need a lawyer to decipher it

Interesting points Clyde but to be honest all im really interested in is if your clone is the Brad Pitt lookalike.

....its probably time I left this discussion ;-)

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