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back to article Big Beardie's watching: Alan Sugar robots spy on Tesco petrol queue

A division of Lord Alan Sugar's firm has launched a surveillance campaign which will see shoppers' faces scanned at hundreds of Tesco petrol stations. Amscreen, one of Lord Sugar's firms, has installed the OptimEyes advertising system in 450 Tesco filling stations around the nation. These devices contain facial recog technology …

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Big Brother

Easy to avoid...

From what I've read elsewhere, these are installed inside the shop, targeting people queueing to pay.

All the Tesco garages I've visited have "Pay@Pump" at _every_ pump. Why go into the shop?

If you absolutely have to enter the shop, the webcam controlling this seems like the perfect place to park that used gum.

Besides, the Asda next door is usually a few pence cheaper anyway.

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Silver badge

Re: Easy to avoid...

Cue ads at the pump.

Also, less "Minority Report" and more "Black Mirror."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Easy to avoid...

Everyone just need to get a cardboard cutout of Lord Sugar's mug on a stick and walk into the petrol station carrying it out towards the camera.

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Anonymous Coward

Much more fun NOT to..

AFAIK, under UK law they will have to provide you with a copy of the data they hold on you (a Data Subject Access Request). That is fully legal, but the £10 doesn't half cover he costs of retrieving your info.

All it takes is about 100 people per shop filing a request to see their data to make this a problem for TESCO. You may not be a pain on your own, but collectively you sure will be. What was it again? Every little helps?

:)

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Re: Much more fun NOT to..

AFAIK, under UK law they will have to provide you with a copy of the data they hold on you (a Data Subject Access Request)."

It doesn't hold or retain data. It's not even facial recognition as we normally understand it. It just looks at a face and makes an "educated" guess at age and sex so as to make an attempt to play a video ad that you're more likely (in their opinion) to watch.

The only data it retains is it's guess at your age and sex (it already knows your location) and which ad it played/was playing at the time.

The idea is not to specifically get you to buy something. The idea is to prove to the advertisers that the advert is properly targeted so as to charge more for the advertising slot.

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Re: Much more fun NOT to..

Uh... how would the company prove to the advertisers that its identification of age and sex were accurate unless they had copies of facial pics as well? For the company to make any claim of accuracy, it will have to back up that claim with data to demonstrate accuracy. Otherwise, the "proof" is no proof at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Balaclava anyone?

Or army-style face paint?

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Gold badge

Re: Balaclava anyone?

No, not army style face paint. Actor style... Just make yourself up to look 40 years older, or optionally like a zombie, and enjoy all those creepy adverts for sweets and funeral plans.

What adverts do zombies watch?

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Coat

Re: Balaclava anyone?

Sad replying to myself I know, but the idea popped into my head because of yesterday's article, and I can't help it:

What adverts do zombies watch?

Braaaaaaaain's Faggots.

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Silver badge

Re: Balaclava anyone?

Not camo paint, ut this stuff: http://cvdazzle.com/

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080

Re: Balaclava anyone?

What adverts do zombies watch?

All of them, that's how they get to be Zombies

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Pint

Re: Balaclava anyone?

Also Brain's beer (around Cardiff)

Note to self -must buy a Guy Fawkes mask today

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Re: Balaclava anyone?

Balaclava under motorcycle helmet if they insist on taking the helmet off, though usually they don't insist on it. Wonder what ads they will play for me standing there with a bike helmet on...

That said I avoid supermarket petrol stations anyway, don't like their crappy fuel.

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Joke

Re: Balaclava anyone?

Yeah, I can see it now In an area with lots of muslim women wearing burka's.

The first advert that comes up for sun-tan lotion is gonna cause a shit-storm!

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Re: Balaclava anyone?

" Wonder what ads they will play for me standing there with a bike helmet on..."

Oh, any old Top Gear related tat, I reckon.

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It's just a ploy to encourage shopping from home.

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"It's just a ploy to encourage shopping from home."

So Tesco Direct now sell petrol...

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Re: "It's just a ploy to encourage shopping from home."

I think he meant that if you shopped from home you wouldn't need to be at the petrol pump.

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Anonymous Coward

Race to the bottom

This must sure make Tesco a shoe-in for the "Making public space a bit less pleasant" gong at the "Irritating marketer of the year" awards.

The 'Minority Report' bit is both wrong and apt at the same time; the idea (and the ads no doubt) is nowhere near as entertaining or thought through as the book/film, but it's equally and misguided and Orwellian as 'precrime', and likely as flawed. I don't recall feeling thrilled at the vision of advertisings future when watching it, and I can't imagine many others not employed in marketing were either.

I can only fervently wish Sugar and Tesco's the same fate as the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

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Re: Race to the bottom

If you check the Amscreen website, it's not just Tesco using this creepy product.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Race to the bottom

Come the revolution......

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Bronze badge

Re: Race to the bottom

FFS marketing types, don't you realise this is exactly the sort of crap the general population doesn't want? The sort crap that means I'll pay extra attention to the advert in order to avoid buying those particular products!

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Windows

Re: Race to the bottom

"The sort crap that means I'll pay extra attention to the advert in order to avoid buying those particular products!"

A data point: about a decade ago, on the Lichfield to Redditch railway line, some bright spark decided to install video screens on the trains that played news clips and adverts. The sound level was idiotically high. The screens were positioned all along the main part of each carriage. There was a token 'quiet' section at the remote end of each carriage which did not have any form of sound insulation between it and the main part of the carriage.

The initiative lasted about 6 months. Rail staff told me that the level of vandalism targeted specifically on the equipment was the worst they had seen (some of the train staff had worked out how to jam the DVD-ROM players in the steel boxes to prevent worse damage to the kit). The jingles used to advertise the local car insurance (! on a commuter train !) brokers and estate agents still haunt my dreams. I will never buy anything from any of the local advertisers, many who have now gone bankrupt. I remember actually seeing a cafe bar that had been advertised on this system and crossing the road to get away purely by reflex action.

Marketeers: Just don't do this. Don't force stuff into people's faces when they have to queue or occupy a certain space for a length of time.

The Tramp: I need a bottle or two of Diamond White of a morning to stop the jingles...

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Re: Race to the bottom

Looks rather like "Shell" are using them a lot!

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Silver badge

Risky in this PC world

I wonder how long before the hordes of sensitive individuals feel so mortally hurt by their age/gender being publicly mis-classified that they decide to sue en masse? Tesco certainly won't want PC Chapman buying petrol from one of their stations.

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MJI
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Typical Tescos

I actually avoided using Tescos for over a year a few years ago despite living near one. I refused to go in, and I let them know why.

They had stupid irritating TVs on all the aisles, staff hated them as well.

I think the slight drop in visitors helped rip them out.

Then their stupid trolleys with handles full of adverts. It is possible to snap them off!

Definately the best was to avoid the place.

Now to their petrol. Nasty stuff, my car runs like a pig on it, yet is fine on BP, Shell or Esso.

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Anonymous Coward

This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

Quoted from a well-informed comment at the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/03/privacy-tesco-scan-customers-faces#show-all

"What I don't understand is how this can possibly be in accordance with the data protection principles - its obvious that in order to use this technology the system must process your individual data... therefore...(DP principles in bold)

The individual who the personal data is about has to consent to the processing.

Unless Tesco installs a process whereby I can consent to the facial recognition technique I fail to see how this can happen

The processing is necessary:

- in relation to a contract which the individual has entered into; or

- because the individual has asked for something to be done so they can enter into a contract. Buying petrol from a Tesco store surely does not include the right for Tescos to gather information about me in order to process that information.

The processing is necessary because of a legal obligation that applies to you (except an obligation imposed by a contract). No contract I can see.

The processing is necessary to protect the individual’s “vital interests”. This condition only applies in cases of life or death, such as where an individual’s medical history is disclosed to a hospital’s A&E department treating them after a serious road accident - Surely not applicable

The processing is necessary for administering justice, or for exercising statutory, governmental, or other public functions.

Well even Tesco cant claim this status

The processing must also be in accordance with the “legitimate interests” condition.

The first legitimate interest requirement is that you must need to process the information for the purposes of your legitimate interests or for those of a third party to whom you disclose it.

What ‘legitimate interest’ can Tesco claim here, apart from it helping their sales?

The second requirement, once the first has been established, is that these interests must be balanced against the interests of the individual(s) concerned. The “legitimate interests” condition will not be met if the processing is unwarranted because of its prejudicial effect on the rights and freedoms, or legitimate interests, of the individual. Your legitimate interests do not need to be in harmony with those of the individual for the condition to be met. However, where there is a serious mismatch between competing interests, the individual’s legitimate interests will come first.

I regard my right not to have information about myself processed in this way, simply because it may help Tescos sell more of its products.

Finally, the processing of information under the legitimate interests condition must be fair and lawful and must comply with all the data protection principles. Which plainly it does not.`

But will we see the Data Protection Commissioner step in and say to Tescos, now look here your proposal breaks most of the DP principles? Sadly like other regulatory bodies they will probably act like toothless fairies."

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Re: This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

I think it's tawdry and tacky and yucky, but I don't think it breaches DP requirements because it doesn't store any images of the 'target individual' or obtain any personal identifiable data. I may be wrong on that point, so please respond if I am. Even if I am wrong, what harm can it do to me if a machine makes a one-off decision that I'm male and over 50, then decides to show me a Viagra advert?

They could have hired a person to sit and look at their customers and then make a decision about what sex they were and what age range, but it's cheaper, overall, to develop this machinery.

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Re: This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

Well they and everyone else already record you by CCTV "for the purposes of crime prevention and public safety". Unlike CCTV, these screens won't actually record your image, just use it to determine whether you are a {young/middle-aged/old}{man/woman}. Whether you are a "young man" or an "old woman" is hardly personal data...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

" think it's tawdry and tacky and yucky, but I don't think it breaches DP requirements because it doesn't store any images of the 'target individual' or obtain any personal identifiable data."

If they don't store any images then how do they work out what they want to sell you.

Obviously, they would tie up your image with your ClubCard after you have made a purchase and next time they will already have your image cross referenced to your personal details all recorded on their ClubCard DB.

Who knows where the data for facial recognition will end up?

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Re: This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

I have no problem with CCTV, since there are specific guidelines to businesses for CCTV, and it is there for crime prevention, people are less likely to rob a place if there is CCTV...

but processing my image for advertising? that is not on.....

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cwh

Re: This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

"The individual who the personal data is about has to consent to the processing" - a small sign at the entrance will cover this. By entering the store/petrol station you are agreeing to thier terms.

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Re: This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

The image isn't stored for longer than it takes the software (which I think is a part of Verint's Retail Intelligence package) to decide your gender & age.

This is just another reason to avoid Tesco, I drive past a couple of them to get to Asda, who somehow manage to keep their prices lower without the need to sell my purchasing habits to anyone who wants them...

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080

Re: This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

people are less likely to rob a place if there is CCTV...

People are less likely to shop at a place if there is face recognition advertising...

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Headmaster

Re: This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

Rubbish - that's not even close to Implied Terms - which is the only unspoken contract type - walking into a business premises does not imply contract nor consent.

The contract is everything. No contract, no consent, simple as that. Three conditions in order to make a contract:

1. An offer made

2. Acceptance of the offer

3. Consideration - each side must give something

In order for a contract to exist, at minimum, four conditions must be met:

1. Both parties intended to make the contract.

2. Both parties agree about what is in the contract.

3. The contract is legal. Contracts to buy or sell anything illegal are not enforceable.

4. The contract must be made by people who are legally capable. This is called ‘capacity’. (Read minors and those of unsound mind.)

More:

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Reality+of+Consent

"There will be no binding contract without the real consent of the parties. Apparent consent may be vitiated because of mistake, fraud, innocent misrepresentation, duress, or undue influence, all of which are defenses to the enforcement of the contract."

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Re: This of course complies with all the necessary consents and legislation:

a small sign at the entrance will cover this. By entering the store/petrol station you are agreeing to thier terms."

Actually no, it won't do. If any consent is needed (and I don't think it is in this case), a mucking big sign visible to the car driver before/as they enter the forecourt would be required. Unless you plan on filling your tank, walking into the shop to pay and on seeing the "small sign" deciding you don't accept their T&Cs

That leaves you in a dilemma. Siphon and dump the petrol/diesel on the ground or just drive off?

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Tesco, stock your shelves

I foresee an increase in the sales of......

Chewing gum

Spray paint

Masking tape

Superglue

Halloween masks

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Re: Tesco, stock your shelves

Dont forget to put the points on your Clubcard so Tesco know what products to push at you.

See where your plan to knobble the cameras falls down?

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Re: Tesco, stock your shelves

But my Clubcard points gives me money off the very items that I buy anyway. I only wish they would pay more attention to the stuff I buy, so that they would keep it in stock (shortie biscuits, I'm talking to you...).

Targeted advertising means I don't have to wade through all that info aimed at youf culture to be informed of new breakthroughs in comfy slippers. Hard to see a downside.

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Re: Tesco, stock your shelves

re: Nigel @10:04

Or you could do what I do, I put my items on the counter and state "I'd like to pay full price, please." and if they scan a card, I leave without my items and without paying, and don't return.

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Re: Tesco, stock your shelves

and if they scan a card, I leave without my items and without paying, and don't return.

They are only going to scan a clubcard if you give it to them to scan.

Me, I've never had my Tesco Clubcard scanned, because I don't have a clubcard. The little bar code on the bottom of the receipt gets given to someone who wants the points. Tesco's database gets just that little bit tainted, someone gets 0.00001p off their next purchase. Win/win, really.

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Holmes

@Peter 45 - Re: Tesco, stock your shelves

Wrote :- "I foresee an increase in the sales of......Chewing gum...Spray paint....Halloween masks"

Then they will place you in the young male group. Sorry, there is no escape from this.

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Big Brother

Re: Tesco, stock your shelves

"Targeted advertising... Hard to see a downside."

At the granular level of targeting that Tescos et al do, it's unlikely that they will advertise something to you that you buy on a regular basis and therefore actually want. It's more likely to be stuff they want to sell you. The same applies to customised special offers. They are not going to give you a discount on stuff they know you are going to buy. All the offers and discounts will be for stuff they want you to buy.

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Flame

"the perfect means for us to enhance the customer shopping experience".

Bullshit!

PR bullshit.

What they mean is: "the perfect means for us to try and flog more gear to customers".

So how long till the images are abused?

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Big Brother

Re: "the perfect means for us to enhance the customer shopping experience".

Bullshit!

Indeed. I tried it and it seemed to get very confused with similar faces.

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Anonymous Coward

Disney adverts

"There are a lot of Donald Ducks and Mickey Mouses today"

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Anonymous Coward

Worrying thing is to see what adverts they think should be targetted at you. Remember a few years ago when I started listening to PlanetRock (initially it was during its "being closed" phase so was amazing advert free!) and thought that I might be listening to a channel where I was close to the target demographic .... then for a few weeks they started running ads for an "erectile disfunction" treatment!

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Bronze badge

Really, a race?

"The race is on for retailers to gather as much information about us as possible"

Tesco has been collecting shitloads of data on customers since the mid 90's with Clubcard. In a recent documentary, a senior exec boasted about how they would know their customers were pregnant before they did, for example, and start targeting them with vouchers for nappies and such. They've been at it for almost 20 years and no other supermarket does it to this degree. This is no race.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really, a race?

I really doubt their predictions are that good, they keep trying to sell me products I would never touch by giving me vouchers for them....

If you see my buying coffee beans, it is pointless trying to sell me instant coffee, it is obvious their systems are not that clever...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really, a race?

Who buys nappies 9 months in advance, especially if you don't even know you're pregnant?

Surely it's better just to wait until a one or two months to go?

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