PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – A 24-hour convenience store in Portland is cracking down on crime, but not in the way you might think.
Jacksons Food Store on Southeast Grand Avenue recently installed a facial recognition system.
It may look just like a camera, but according to Blue Line Technology – the company who made their system – the high-tech gadget also scans a person’s face.
“It’s going to benefit this area because, really, this area’s not a good area,” said a customer, Jerrett Dean. “I’m all about it. I’m all for it, 100 percent.”
After repeated attempts over two days to reach Jacksons, they did not return FOX 12’s calls or emails.
But according to a statement from Jacksons Food Store shared with FOX 12 by a Seattle media partner, the convenience store is using facial recognition software in order to “prevent future theft and potential danger from happening.”
In order for a person to walk inside, they must first look at the camera.
Employees at the Southeast Grand store say it’s only activated at night.
“Obviously they’ve been having this problem,” said Dean.
Blue Line Technology’s website claims people who are wearing a mask will not be able to enter. But it also says the system user can create a database custom-designed for their specific needs.
Sarah Armstrong, a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union, says technology like this makes mistakes and disproportionately misidentifies people of color.
“Whenever anyone is making a blacklist, or a watch list, against people there’s always privacy concerns. There’s concerns about how you get on that list, what you could do to get off that list, what could happen if you felt a mistake was being made,” said Armstrong.
“They can’t just be looking at people going, ‘Oh, I think he’s a shoplifter, so I’m not going to let him in.’ You know, you can’t assume,” said Dean.
But Jacksons said in the statement, “It is important, however, to understand our system does not share, receive, or transmit any information or facial images to any other database. Our self-managed database is not connected to any other platform and all captured information is stored for less than 48 hours. The only exception would be in cases when a crime is committed.”
The company also says they acknowledge public apprehension, but this particular solution has shown to significantly reduce crime for similar stores.
Here is the Jacksons Food Stores statement in full:
“At Jacksons Food Stores, the safety of our customers and employees is our number one priority. We are in the early stages of testing new technology that utilizes facial recognition software. This particular solution has shown to significantly reduce incidences of crime for other similar retailers. That said, no solution is perfect, and we acknowledge public apprehension behind facial recognition software. It is important, however, to understand our system does not share, receive, or transmit any information or facial images to any other database. Our self-managed database is not connected to any other platform and all captured information is stored for less than 48 hours. The only exception would be in cases when a crime is committed. Video monitoring has become nearly ubiquitous in many public and private environments because of its proven ability to deter crime or to help law enforcement catch criminals. Here at Jacksons we are exploring whether such technology could result in a safer place for our customers to shop and for our staff to work.”
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