Amazon sued for using facial recognition on New Yorkers without permission

A class-action lawsuit was filed against Amazon on Thursday, claiming that the company did not inform its customers that it was using facial recognition technology at its NYC locations.

The lawsuit sites a 2021 Biometric Identifier Law which requires all New York City businesses to post proper signage letting customers know that their biometrics are being recording.

The biometric information that is obtained can include palm prints, the shape and size of a person's body, and even the way they walk.

Amazon Go locations have become a one-stop-shop for a lot New Yorkers.

These stores are cashier-less, thus making them partially automated.

It's like a virtual cart for Amazon account holders.  You walk in, grab what you want, and walk out.  

The technology monitors your actions and charges your account when you leave.  If you're not an account holder you insert your credit card before entering the store and the technology monitors your actions and charges you when you leave.

The lawsuit has left a lot of customers feeling uneasy.

Amazon opened its Go stores in New York City in 2019, marketing itself as a place where customers could shop seamlessly without dealing with a cashier. 

The company says it uses computer vision, learning algorithm and sensor fusion to track virtual carts in order to note when an item should be added or removed from the tab. 


Amazon Go logo is seen on a building in Chicago, United States on October 14, 2022. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The lawsuit claims that the store is constantly scanning each customers' biometric information, keeping track of their shape and size, and analyzing their every movement , until they leave the store, without their permission.

The lawsuit also claims that, "the sign informs customers that Amazon will not collect biometric identifier information on them unless they use the Amazon One palm scanner to enter the Amazon Go store, even though Amazon Go stores do collect biometric identifier information."

According to the law, Amazon has 30 days to comply to the litigation. If Amazon is found to be in violation of the 2021 law, it could face upwards of $500 for each violation, up to $500 for each negligent sale violation, and up to $5,000 for each intentional or reckless sale violation.

There are currently 10 Amazon Go locations in Manhattan