Privacy Commission reveals full list of supermarkets trialling facial recognition technology

The Privacy Commission has revealed the full list of supermarkets across the North Island trialling facial recognition technology (FRT). 

It comes as an inquiry starts on Thursday into Foodstuff's trial of FRT across 25 supermarkets. 

The inquiry aims to monitor the way stores are using the technology to ensure their compliance with the Privacy Act. 

Privacy Commissioner Michael Webster will be informed of the effectiveness of FRT in reducing harmful behaviour once the trial is completed. 

"At the end of the six-month trial I will be assessing the evidence that the use of FRT is justified," Webster said. 

The trial will look at whether it's made a "practical and statistically significant difference to the incidence of retail crime in Foodstuffs North Island supermarkets", compared to other less intrusive options.  

He said the use of FRT raises "significant privacy risks". 

The inquiry will monitor: 

- The privacy and data protection safeguards and controls stores have in place, how they are being used in practice and whether they are sufficient to manage risks 

- Whether people having their faces scanned are confident that their data is being used safely (for example, how are they told about the trial, can they appeal being added to a watchlist) 

- Whether any bias or accuracy issues are occurring 

- Staff training 

- What happens in the store after the system creates an alert that someone on the watchlist has been identified. 

Webster reassured the inquiry won't get in the way of customers or impact the ability of stores to take appropriate action to keep staff and customers safe. 

"There is no known other current use of facial recognition technology in the retail sector in New Zealand," he said. "Its use generally across New Zealand, to scan and identify an individual in real-time and compare them against a database of faces, is rare." 

The following stores are trialling facial recognition: 

- New World Regent, 167 Bank Street, Regent, Whangārei 0112 

- New World Kaikohe. 8 Marino Place, Kaikohe 0405 

- PAK'nSAVE Silverdale. 20 Hibiscus Coast Highway, Silverdale 0993 

- PAK'nSAVE Ormiston. 1 Bellingham Road, Flat Bush, Auckland 2019 

- PAK'nSAVE Sylvia Park. 286 Mount Wellington Highway, Sylvia Park, Auckland 1060 

- PAK'nSAVE Manukau, 6 Cavendish Drive, Manukau City Centre, Auckland 2104 

- PAK'nSAVE Papamoa, 42 Domain Road, Papamoa Beach, Papamoa 3118 

- New World Te Rapa, 751 Te Rapa Road, Te Rapa, Hamilton 3200 

- PAK'nSAVE Mill Street. 17 Mill Street, Whitiora, Hamilton 3200 

- New World Westend. 247 Old Taupo Road, Hillcrest, Rotorua 3015 

- New World Brookfield. 89 Bellevue Road, Brookfield, Tauranga 3110 

- New World Gate Pa. 948 Cameron Road, Gate Pa, Tauranga 3112 

- New World Mt Maunganui. Cnr Tweed St & Maunganui Rd, Mt Maunganui 3116 

- PAK'nSAVE Napier. 25 Munroe Street, Napier South, Napier 4110 

- PAK'nSAVE Tamatea. Cnr Leicester Avenue & Coventry Ave, Tamatea, Napier 4112 

- PAK'nSAVE New Plymouth. 53 Leach Street, New Plymouth Central, New Plymouth 4310 

- PAK'nSAVE Taupo, 105/131 Ruapehu Street, Taupō 3330 

- New World Pioneer. 179/197 Main Street, Takaro, Palmerston North 4412 

- PAK'nSAVE Palmerston North. 327 Ferguson Street, Palmerston North 4410 

- New World Levin. 21 Bath Street, Levin 5510 

- PAK'nSAVE Upper Hutt, Gibbons Street, Upper Hutt Central, Upper Hutt 5018 

- PAK'nSAVE Whangarei, Walton Street, Whangārei 0110 

- New World Feilding, 42 Aorangi Street, Feilding 4702 

- PAK'nSAVE Papakura, 331-345 Great South Road, Takanini, Auckland, 2112 

- PAK'nSAVE Whanganui, 167 Glasgow Street, Whanganui 4500 

The Commissioner is urging customers who shop at participating trial stores to provide comments at