Civil liberties group threatens Tesco over data collection


A civil liberties group has threatened to sue supermarket chain Tesco over the collection of data from all the cashless stores it opens in Europe, highlighting privacy issues raised by increasing automation.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said in a letter to Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy that it “will be forced to take action if Tesco extends to any country in the European Economic Area the practice of making access to stores conditional on subscribing to one’s loyalty”. scheme”.

He said it “breaches the data minimization principle” set out in both the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and the UK version.

His complaint concerns Tesco’s GetGo cashless store in central London, which uses technology from technology group Trigo to identify what customers have put in their baskets and charge them for the items.

Customers must have a Tesco app to make payments and receive receipts, but using the store also requires them to enroll in the Clubcard loyalty scheme. Clubcard offers benefits to customers but also generates large amounts of data for the merchant.

“If you don’t need to have or use customer data, you can’t,” said ICCL senior researcher Johnny Ryan. “The need must be proportionate”.

Edward Machin of law firm Ropes & Gray said that the use of a cashless store “requires some means of securing payment and it is not unreasonable or illegal in any case for this to be done via technology or a Clubcard account”.

J Sainsbury, who has a cashier-less store in the same area, said shoppers didn’t need to have a Nectar loyalty card to use it.

Amazon, which has 19 Amazon Fresh checkout-less stores in the UK, requires customers to download the Amazon app while Aldi, which operates a checkout-less store in south-east London, has no checkout program. loyalty.

Adam Rose of Mishcon de Reya said legal arguments are more complex when the customer is followed around the store. “This type of treatment. . . implies a much higher threshold to comply with the law,” he said.

Tesco said the tracking technology uses body movement rather than facial recognition and customer visual data is not stored or recorded.

He also said the store, which he pointed out was a trial, “uses technology to provide a checkout-less experience, giving customers the ability to buy and pay without scanning a product or use a physical crate”.

It has just one cashless store in a fleet of over 4,000 stores in the UK, but plans to open more next year with a combination of automatic checkouts and cashless technology. Tesco has 152 stores in Ireland and 537 elsewhere in Europe.

He previously said he would only deploy such technology when customers are comfortable with it. But like all retailers, it faces pressure on margins from rising wages, while the cost of handling cash runs into the tens of millions of pounds a year. Automation and reduced use of cash help reduce costs.


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