MERCADONA has been fined €2.5 million by Spain’s data protection agency over a ‘facial recognition’ system trial.
The aim was to spot supermarket customers that had restraining orders issued against them for attacking Mercadona staff.
The pilot scheme operated in 48 stores for several months in the Valencian Community, Mallorca, and Zaragoza areas.
The company last year said that ‘all data protection laws would be strictly observed’, which was not the view of the Spanish Agency for Data Protection(AEPD).
Cameras produced an instant identification of people who received a restraining order after assaulting Mercadona staff or had been convicted for a store-based incident.
The police would then be contacted if a transgressor appeared in a store.
Mercadona stated in July 2020 that ‘facial recognition is being used to improve the safety of our customers and staff’.
It emerged at the start of this month that the AEPD had been probing the legality of the recognition system amid concerns over storing data.
The news took Mercadona by surprise who ended the tests in May and removed the cameras.
The supermarket chain, in a statement, said: “We had worked right from the start with all of the appropriate judicial authorities in store areas and we began the pilot scheme after presenting full details to the AEPD with strict adherence to transparency”.
They also insisted that no images were retained of non-offending customers and that warning signs were placed in store entrances.