Facial recognition technology does not fit

The hi-tech security industry suffered a blow this week when two trials using face recognition technology software by bookstore...

The hi-tech security industry suffered a blow this week when two trials using face recognition technology software by bookstore chain Borders and London Underground were scrapped.

Borders abandoned a plan to install FaceIT, a biometric face recognition software, developed by Visionics in its flagship branches in central London.

FaceIT works by scanning the faces of each customer entering the store and then comparing the image against a police database of known shoplifters. If a match is not found, the software discards the image.

Borders told CW360 that the trial had been abandoned because of concerns about the Data Protection and Human Rights Act.

"In common with most large retailers, we use security cameras throughout our stores as part of a range of security and loss prevention tools. We do not use cameras in any private space. Borders strongly values the human rights and privacy of our staff and our customers."

However, Joseph Atick, president and CEO of Visionics, told CW360 the real reason for the cancellation of the trial was the store's fear of alienating customers.

"Borders has always been aware of where it stood legally in terms of the Human Rights and Data Protection Acts, " he said.

"Borders is worried about negative PR. It is hard to make the public sympathetic [to its crime prevention causes] because there is no direct benefit to customers when a store protects itself from theft."

A second facial recognition initiative, which was to be trialled at London Underground's Oxford Circus tube station, was this week abandoned at the discussion stages because of the high costs associated with implementing the system.

"London Underground was considering a trial. However, it does not have the finance for installing such sophisticated CCTV technology," the company said.

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