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/ Supermarkets spying - is this wrong or illegal?

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Trevers - on 07 Mar 2018

The Sainsbury's across the road from my office has recently upgraded their self-service checkout machines to include a camera and a screen on which the customer can see that they are being monitored while they purchase their items.

It strikes me as a rather sisnister move, presumably as the footage is presumably stored against personal identification details via Nectar card or debit cards. The angle of the camera is perfect for seeing into wallets or handbags.

I've half a mind to start sticking gaffer tape over the cameras when I'm in there - I resent being spied upon so obviously. But is the introduction of these cameras in breach of any sort of privacy or data protection laws?

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Timmd on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

Perhaps it's to help guard against people stealing things while self serving, too? I've often wonder about how many people 'bleep through' the cheaper things and not their more expensive shopping.

Post edited at 13:37
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Trevers - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Timmd:

> Perhaps it's to help guard against people stealing things while self serving, too? I've often wonder about how many people 'bleep through' the cheaper things and not their more expensive shopping.

True - the old putting through items as onions trick for example (I'd be curious to see whether supermarkets have estimates of how common this is). But it seems to me a particularly intrusive response, and signals a lack of trust in the customer (who I'd presume are mostly honest).

Climbing Pieman on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Timmd:

Quite likely to reduce theft as apparently 25% admit to stealing https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/self-scan-shoplifters-stealing-3bn-a-year-sqbsmrbzr

Timmd on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

That's not so surprising. 

keith-ratcliffe on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

Last year I asked for cashback at Sainsbury's & the cashier forgot to give it to me. I took in the receipt and they used it to check the cameras to confirm that I had not been given it and I was able to collect the cash. On looking around the store I noted that the cameras were pointing at an area where the pin reader was visible so I now always shield it from that camera.

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

> The Sainsbury's across the road from my office has recently upgraded their self-service checkout machines to include a camera and a screen on which the customer can see that they are being monitored while they purchase their items.

> It strikes me as a rather sisnister move, presumably as the footage is presumably stored against personal identification details via Nectar card or debit cards. The angle of the camera is perfect for seeing into wallets or handbags.

> I've half a mind to start sticking gaffer tape over the cameras when I'm in there - I resent being spied upon so obviously. But is the introduction of these cameras in breach of any sort of privacy or data protection laws?

You resent being spied upon so obviously???

There's no logic to that as you presumably accept that most, if not all, of the store is being monitored already.  Making it obvious seems like an acceptable way of reminding those who are tempted that it is not a good idea.

 

wintertree - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

No, correctly regulated and implemented CCTV is not illegal.  Even if you don’t like it.

Its the future - https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/01/we-test-the-worlds-first-amazon-go-watch-you-shop-grocery-store/

Jimbocz - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

I hope you aren't a member of any grocery store loyalty card schemes.  If you think a picture of you scanning groceries is an intrusion of your privacy you wouldn't believe everything they know about you when tracking what you buy.  

1
trouserburp - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

At least it's honest, how about if they use one of those apps where it shows you with a mexican hat or doggy facial features?

FactorXXX - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

> I've half a mind to start sticking gaffer tape over the cameras when I'm in there - I resent being spied upon so obviously.

Is it possible to spy on someone obviously?

1
Trevers - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> There's no logic to that as you presumably accept that most, if not all, of the store is being monitored already.  Making it obvious seems like an acceptable way of reminding those who are tempted that it is not a good idea.

I understand that all stores will have CCTV. This is an order of magnitude more intrusive and threatening, partly because it's staring directly at my hands/wallet/bag/midriff and crotch region, and partly because presumably each snippet of footage is held on a server somewhere linked to my customer records. That's much different from a long file of hazy footage from which my face may or may not be identifiable, should any criminal activity be suspected.

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jkarran - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

> True - the old putting through items as onions trick for example (I'd be curious to see whether supermarkets have estimates of how common this is). But it seems to me a particularly intrusive response, and signals a lack of trust in the customer (who I'd presume are mostly honest).

Customers might be mostly honest but I bet the supermarkets now lose more revenue to people not/incorrectly checking out goods at self service than they do to more traditional pocket-stuffing shoplifters, mostly because it doesn't feel like steeling, you don't feel watched (though you are), you can kid yourself it was a mistake and that someone else will believe it was a mistake if challenged. There's no hiding reality from yourself or others if you're simply stuffing your pockets.

jk

1
Timmd on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Is it possible to spy on someone obviously?

If the recipient isn't very observant, it probably is?

Post edited at 14:52
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LastBoyScout on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

Simple - don't use the self-service machines.

My local Sainsbury's has the self-scan handset thing, which is fantastic.

NottsRich on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

A few years ago a lot of debit/credit cards belonging to people in a localish area were being cloned and used further afield/abroad. Turns out a CCTV camera in a store had been angled just right to get card details from the checkout. Not sure of the exact details of how it worked, but it was quite a big criminal operation IIRC.

This doesn't sound like that, but if it captures the details as you suggest then perhaps it could be used for less honest purposes if people had access to it.

By the way, how do you feel about cash machines that have you under CCTV surveillance while you're taking out money?

dread-i - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

>and partly because presumably each snippet of footage is held on a server somewhere linked to my customer records.

It probably isn't directly linked. The camera will have an accurate timestamp, and so will the tills. They could and can link the two together, but it makes no sense to to tie till receipts directly to the camera.

If you wanted a definitive answer, do a subject access request to the supermarket to find out what data they hold about you. For bonus points, do it after May 25, when GDPR kicks in. It could be argued that your shopping, if it can be linked to you as a person, is sensitive PII. You may be able to identify someones religion, medical conditions, ethnicity etc from the shopping.

cb294 - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

I HATE self check out tills. What next, do they expect me to swipe the shop floors or stack the shelves? 

This is not even considering that this idiotic trend kills off another type of low skill job. What benefit for society?

CB

8
jkarran - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to cb294:

> This is not even considering that this idiotic trend kills off another type of low skill job. What benefit for society?

To put a positive spin on this, one I'm not convinced of: ultimately, if we get the transition toward automation right and there is no guarantee or even indication as yet that we will we'll get more leisure time.

Currently we get one poor harassed (usually) woman supervising 10+ human displacing robots most of which are beeping incessantly for attention and authorisation as long her apparently hellish minimum wage shift lasts. It's properly shit but it is quicker than waiting for a human being

jk

2
Rob Parsons on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

> The Sainsbury's across the road from my office has recently upgraded their self-service checkout machines to include a camera and a screen on which the customer can see that they are being monitored while they purchase their items.

> ... But is the introduction of these cameras in breach of any sort of privacy or data protection laws?

New data protection laws (the 'General Data Protection Regulations' - GDPR) are coming into force in a month or so, and they strengthen existing legislation.

I haven't studied the details but, in this case, it might conceivably be that by agreeing to use the self-service checkout facility you are de facto entering into a contract with the supermarket which permits them to monitor (and potentially store records of) your activities. Check the fine print.

In general, though, I agree with cb294: I hate the f*cking things, and refuse to use them, precisely because they are kicking people out of jobs.

Post edited at 16:17
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Rob Parsons on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> To put a positive spin on this, one I'm not convinced of: ultimately, if we get the transition toward automation right and there is no guarantee or even indication as yet that we will we'll get more leisure time.

 

Do you know, when I was a lad, the promise of automation and industrialization was exactly that: more leisure time for all. The challenge was supposed to be how society and people would adjust to having so much more free time.

In fact, all that's happened is that people at the bottom of the pile have been left without jobs and consigned to the scrapheap, whilst those at the top of the pile have gotten obscenely rich. Meanwhile, those of us remaining in work are still working five days a week and, if you mention the (very attractive) concept of a general three-day week, people look at you as though you were an idiot.

 

So much for any aspiration!

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dread-i - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Rob Parsons:

>if you mention the (very attractive) concept of a general three-day week, people look at you as though you were an idiot.

Some (larger) companies will allow you to do a 3 or 4 day week as a job share. There is research that people are more productive with shorter weeks. They make the job fit the time allocated, rather than getting to Wednesday and spending the next two days looking forward to the weekend. The drawback is that these roles usually have reduced pay.

I think the trend of working from home, will increase. In a utopian world this will allow people to be more flexible when they work. Back in the real world, people will still probably work 5 days and actually increase their hours for no additional pay. They will feel obliged to answer that mail or finish that task in their own time. 

 

r0x0r.wolfo - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Rob Parsons:

You are able to process data for the perofmance of a contract, but a supermarket would have a hard time making the case that CCTV is necessary to sell goods. 

They will likely be relying 'legitimate interests' i.e. the interests of prevention of theft. 

Under GDPR there is a right to object to this processing but if the data controller has compelling grounds they can continue processing the data. 

Dax H - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Rob Parsons:

Getting a 3 day a week job doesn't seem that hard. My Mrs has just gone back to work after 2 years off and is only looking for a 3 day week and has loads of offers. 

Of course they are only paying her for a 3 day week. 

Eric9Points - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to NottsRich:

> A few years ago a lot of debit/credit cards belonging to people in a localish area were being cloned and used further afield/abroad. Turns out a CCTV camera in a store had been angled just right to get card details from the checkout. Not sure of the exact details of how it worked, but it was quite a big criminal operation IIRC.

> This doesn't sound like that, but if it captures the details as you suggest then perhaps it could be used for less honest purposes if people had access to it.

Yes, this is why I would avoid getting spied on. Same thing happened at a petrol station in Embra a few years ago. I think they'd poked a hole in the ceiling and put a webcam behind it.

Post edited at 18:35
Rob Parsons on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Dax H:

I meant three days as the *norm* - that being society's big payoff for automation.

gravy - on 07 Mar 2018

OP:

 

what do you think all those clubcard schemes are for if not spying?

 

john arran - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

> You are able to process data for the perofmance of a contract, but a supermarket would have a hard time making the case that CCTV is necessary to sell goods. 

> They will likely be relying 'legitimate interests' i.e. the interests of prevention of theft. 

> Under GDPR there is a right to object to this processing but if the data controller has compelling grounds they can continue processing the data. 

It's also quite possible that the images are not being recorded and not stored, but the live feed will nonetheless be acting as a deterrent.

aln - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> Do you know, when I was a lad, the promise of automation and industrialization was exactly that: more leisure time for all. The challenge was supposed to be how society and people would adjust to having so much more free time.

> In fact, all that's happened is that people at the bottom of the pile have been left without jobs and consigned to the scrapheap, whilst those at the top of the pile have gotten obscenely rich. Meanwhile, those of us remaining in work are still working five days a week

6 in my case

DubyaJamesDubya - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> To put a positive spin on this, one I'm not convinced of: ultimately, if we get the transition toward automation right and there is no guarantee or even indication as yet that we will we'll get more leisure time.

> Currently we get one poor harassed (usually) woman supervising 10+ human displacing robots most of which are beeping incessantly for attention and authorisation as long her apparently hellish minimum wage shift lasts. It's properly shit but it is quicker than waiting for a human being

> jk

I have read that the staff supervising prefer it to checkout work but I also read that each machine saves the supermarket £25k a year because the customers are doing work for you. (

wintertree - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> I have read that the staff supervising prefer it to checkout work but I also read that each machine saves the supermarket £25k a year because the customers are doing work for you. (

Would you rather pay more to have a personalised shopper walk around getting things for you?

The exact same logic applies.  You’re perfectly happy to do work others could be paid for.  You fill your own car up with petrol/diesel/electricity (unless you’re in a protectionist “full service” state like Oregon) when you could pay someone else to.

There’s nothing “special” about till work.  It’s just the current status quo, which is always changing.

What is missing - and is vitally important - is a way of taking some of the financial savings from automation and using it to fairly reduce the work we all just do without leaving people stigmatised and poor. A strong and fair welfare state is going to be critical to the future.  So it’s not looking good.

Jimbocz - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to cb294:

> I HATE self check out tills. What next, do they expect me to swipe the shop floors or stack the shelves? 

I agree completely and hope every person who is inclined to steal does so at a self checkout.  I'd be chuffed to bits if some thieves figured out how to fool them and they became obsolete over night.

I'm not too careful about making mistakes that might cost Tesco money, after all I'm not on the clock, just a volunteer helping out.  

 

 

 

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cb294 - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to wintertree:

IMO your analogy is flawed. I want some goods, so get them from the shelves. They want me to pay or want to have a clean floor, they collect the money and do the swiping.

And yes, I am prepared to pay a little more for decent service that I enjoy.

I would similarly be prepared to pay a little more to keep low skilled jobs available. When travelling in countries where attendants are present at some petrol stations I therefore always try to use such stations. 

CB

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Name Changed 34 - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to cb294:

 When asked by a floor assistant would I like help using the self service checkout as I wait in line with the others queueing at the one open checkout   Selling cigarettes I simply reply no thank you I  do not wish to help you become unemployed   I suspect that the staff have received training on this matter 

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DubyaJamesDubya - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to wintertree:

> Would you rather pay more to have a personalised shopper walk around getting things for you?

 

No and there is nothing in my statement that implies I would. As for being served at tills I don't think I have ever used a self serve till that has saved me any time (which is the only reason I can see for using them from a customer view point) indeed quite the opposite.

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captain paranoia - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I think the point was that shops used to have staff who would get your shopping for you, rather than you having to walk around the aisles with a basket or trolley... Then 'self-service' supermarkets arrived, and then self-checkouts.

Neil Williams - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

> The Sainsbury's across the road from my office has recently upgraded their self-service checkout machines to include a camera and a screen on which the customer can see that they are being monitored while they purchase their items.

I believe that the ones switching to this have removed the "bagging area" scales - the ones at Euston station certainly have.  This makes them much quicker and easier to use.  Overall probably a benefit.

You are, of course, being watched at a regular check-out, it's just by a person instead.

Neil Williams - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> I think the point was that shops used to have staff who would get your shopping for you, rather than you having to walk around the aisles with a basket or trolley...

They still do (on a slightly different model), though you often have to pay a small extra fee for them to do so.  They will give it to you in the car park to put in your car, or if you prefer deliver it for a little more.

 

Neil Williams - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to wintertree:

> Would you rather pay more to have a personalised shopper walk around getting things for you?

You can of course do this, it's called click and collect / delivery.  At the same time as self checkouts have got rid of jobs, this has created slightly different ones.

> What is missing - and is vitally important - is a way of taking some of the financial savings from automation and using it to fairly reduce the work we all just do without leaving people stigmatised and poor. A strong and fair welfare state is going to be critical to the future.  So it’s not looking good.

I do agree with this.  I become more convinced all the time that the way forward is to tax money made from automation as well as from human work, and use it to fund some kind of UBI.

DubyaJamesDubya - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> I think the point was that shops used to have staff who would get your shopping for you, rather than you having to walk around the aisles with a basket or trolley... 

Isn't that called online shopping?

PeakDJ on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Trevers:

> I understand that all stores will have CCTV. This is an order of magnitude more intrusive and threatening, partly because it's staring directly at my hands/wallet/bag/midriff and crotch region, and partly because presumably each snippet of footage is held on a server somewhere linked to my customer records. 

I really don't think they're that sophisticated to analyse the video footage and draw any reliable conclusions about you as a shopper or a person in general - yet.

 

 

Post edited at 19:28
captain paranoia - on 10 Mar 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

> They still do (on a slightly different model), 

Yes, online shopping and home delivery was noted as being a return to an older model. Think Granville on his bike in 'Open All Hours'...


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