Mercadona’s controversial facial recognition will not succeed: a judge prevents its use in a supermarket

Mercadona’s facial recognition will not continue. The Justice, through the Provincial Court of Barcelona, ​​has ruled on one of the cases of the Mercadona system implemented in July 2020 and has concluded that “there is a violation of privacy”.

According to the court order obtained by El Diario.es, the Mercadona system is not “protecting the public interest”, “but rather, the private or particular interests of the company in question.”

Justice collects the enormous doubts that it already generated at the time

Mercadona’s facial recognition was created to detect people with a “restraining order final judgment of the establishment in less than 0.3 seconds “, as explained by the company. The system was developed” always in constant contact with the corresponding authorities to guarantee full protection and all its legal guarantees “, as explained by Mercadona. But a year later, Justice has concluded that facial recognition may pose a risk in one of the supermarkets where it was requested to be implemented.

Already then, different experts consulted by Engadget warned of the doubts raised by this system. Facial recognition requires “reinforced guarantees”, as explained in a report by the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD). Own AEPD then started an investigation on Mercadona’s facial recognition, one that is still ongoing and for which they have not yet spoken.

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According to the order issued for the case of Barcelona, “The adequate guarantees in order to protect the rights of the and freedoms of the interested parties, not only of those who have been punished and whose access prohibition is incumbent upon them, but of the rest of the people who access the aforementioned supermarket “.

The resolution starts from the defense of two people convicted of a robbery with violence in 2018, where it was argued that “the convicts were not prohibited from accessing any other supermarket.” For the judges of the Provincial Court of Barcelona, ​​the measure of facial recognition is in this case “disproportionate”.

A Barcelona court has not authorized the installation of the system in a specific supermarket in Barcelona to help comply with the restraining order of two violent individuals convicted of robbery, “they explain from Mercadona.

The use of facial recognition at Mercadona raised doubts. Among them, the origin of the database. “Mercadona can only have access to the database of the courts. And the courts do not have to have my face,” explained Jorge García Herrero, a lawyer specializing in data protection. “Even if I don’t save the images, it is a treatment. The key is where Mercadona gets the images of criminals“.

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Mercadona’s system spoke of an instantaneous processing, of 0.3 seconds. However, the judges point out that “no matter how fast, there is a privacy violation. Both the argument of speed and the non-processing of data fall by their own weight “.

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Mercadona cancels its tests with facial recognition

Although initially implemented in 40 stores in Valencia, Mallorca and Zaragoza, the facial recognition project will be no more than a test. Mercadona sources explain to Engadget that the facial recognition system “stopped being used for a while.”

“From the company we ensure compliance with the law in respect of privacy, therefore before implementing this system in tests, authorization has always been requested from the different courts of the stores where it has been implemented,” they explain from Mercadona. Beyond the decision of Justice with a supermarket, the company has decided to terminate the tests with facial recognition in the rest of stores.

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