Cashless grocery shopping: concerned privacy activists

Buying without a cash register is now also possible in Germany. A few days ago, in Cologne, the first supermarket to use the new technology was inaugurated. But privacy advocates are skeptical.

Every customer movement is recorded

To make cashless shopping possible, every move by the customer must be accurately recorded, for example when the customer puts a jar of jam directly into his pocket. The question is how this happens and what is stored. Because sensors and cameras can be used to create an accurate profile of a customer’s buying behavior. Facial recognition is also being used in Chinese pilot projects.

Privacy Advocates Tackle Cashless Shopping

That is not compatible with our understanding of privacy protection, said Hamburg data protection officer Thomas Fuchs of the food newspaper. Consequently, the data protection conference, the exchange committee of supervisory authorities, is also currently dealing with the problem.

If the consumer is clear about what data they will record and expressly accepts it, from the point of view of data protection experts, nothing will stand in the way of ATM-less purchases.

At the Cologne store, where this is possible for the first time in this country, customers must, according to the operator Rewe, register with an app before making a purchase and accept the recording. But there is no facial recognition. It is also said that the system cannot recognize the customer the next time they buy.

Model for Aldi and Tesco: Amazon Fresh

In London, Aldi is testing cashierless checkout at an unnamed supermarket. The role model is the online retailer Amazon. You’re always trying to redefine what it means to be a discount distributor, and the technology used in this test will give you a wealth of information, says Aldi UK and Ireland director Giles Hurley. Employees of the German retail group are currently testing the technology and, in a further step, customers are also testing it, as it is called. British competitor Tesco is already having employees test out cashless stores at its headquarters and is also relying on Amazon’s technology.

In March, the online retailer opened a cash registerless store in London for the first time in Europe under the name Amazon Fresh. In the US, the online retail giant now has a good two dozen of these stores, which are called Amazon Go there.

Dennis Alvarado

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