Latest Assault On Privacy: Grocery Store Shelves That Watch You

By: Kristin Tate
67

Beginning in 2015, “retail surveillance” could become very common in grocery stores.

Mondelez, the company that owns many major food brands like Chips Ahoy and Ritz, has developed high-tech shelves with built-in cameras. The cameras will be watching as you shop to “gather intelligence.”


This “intelligence” will include basic information like your age and sex.

The idea is to figure out which types of people tend to buy different brands and food products. This way, the company can better market its products to various segments of the population.

A large database will eventually be built with all of the collected information about grocery store customers’ preferences, organized by age and sex.

At this time, Mondelez is the only company that has confirmed plans to move forward with retail surveillance. If it proves to be a valuable marketing technique, however, it is likely that many others will follow in its path.

Do you think retail surveillance violates our privacy?

On one hand, grocery stores and Mondelez are private companies so they can do whatever they want. If you do not feel comfortable with retail surveillance, you can simply choose not to shop at the stores that use it.

On the other hand, however, retail surveillance (if proven to be a valuable marketing tool) could become so prevalent that it is eventually used in almost all grocery stores. This would leave shoppers with very little choice.

Tell us what you think of retail surveillance in the comments section below.

The following two tabs change content below.
Kristin Tate is a multi-media reporter for Breitbart News and BenSwann.com. Dedicated to fearless journalism, she regularly works on undercover stings with James O'Keefe to reveal government waste, abuse, and fraud. Tate was a Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) Chapter President and Founder. She will continue to fight tirelessly for individual liberty and free markets through new media. Visit Kristin's website at www.TheLibertarianChick.com.
Support the Truth In Media Project


"Like" Ben Swann on Facebook
  • Mark

    When do they start turning over their data to the Feds?

  • Brandon

    Start carrying a pair of wire cutters to the grocery store. Crush the lens. If everyone clips just one, they will stop from losses.

    • wiseowl

      We can also collect up a cart full of stuff and then randomly abandon the items all around the store. It will make a mess of what ever there data collection is for. :P

  • C4LCNCPLS

    This is already being done at Food Lion and many other stores except, they don’t use camera’s. They use you discount card at checkout to log your buying habits. They already know your name, location and age. IBM and other service providers provide them with reports detailing buying habits. Its know as Big Data at IBM. The only company I know who does not do this is Walmart. They don’t have discount cards but, they may be able to get your info from your credit/debit card provider and tie it to your purchases but, I am not sure. I do know that if you shop online at most retailer sites, they can determine what you have been shopping for based on your browser cookies. If, yuou go to Walmart.com they will show you things at the bottom of the page that may interest you based on the histroy of your browsing history. Same with Amazon, New egg etc. When you go to other web sites, ads appear on those pages with references to things you have shopped for before. I don’t see where such information can be used adversely against anyone but, it is very prevalent in the marketplace these days.

    • tarabyte.0101

      You are exactly right. This is very prevalent. And Walmart can use your credit card info and other things to figure out your buying habits.
      For the most part, this is all used in providing better customer service, and targeted marketing – doing away with mass mailings and better targeting you with offers that are meaningful. Every retailer, insurance company, hospital, bank – you name it – does it. The surveillance is just the same thing in a different way. I have known of no private company, though, who has used it for nefarious reasons or sold it, etc. Many companies have privacy statements (like banks and insurance companies) which detail how they use the information and that they will not share it.

      • C4LCNCPLS

        I do see the possibility of the NSA taking this data looking for people who buy products used to make crude explosives but, I doubt that is happening.

  • Jon

    Wouldn’t it be much easier for the grocery store to snap a picture at the register, link it to the items purchased and then sell that data to all it’s suppliers? I’m sure that’s the next progression.

  • Ben Emery

    Kroger does the exact same thing except they log your purchases with your kroger card

  • Faust

    Gibb’s rule #9. Always carry a knife.

  • SFGIRL

    Don’t like it at all! Our privacy invaded is invaded too much as it is by the government. Tired of all the spying. No more cameras! I will not shop at a store that installs these cameras.

  • Matthew Scott

    The information, as others have commented, can be gathered less intrusively and perhaps even more cost effectively, without the cameras. Perhaps the cameras are meant to pick up particular information only available by watching consumers in the act of purchasing or not purchasing? At any rate, we are being bombarded with cameras, and it really is conditioning us for what Orwell wrote. That being said, it is up to us to reject this before it is prevalent. Once it is prevalent, and it’s sad to say, these private companies can and should do what they want. I would think it necessary to get clear consent though, as with all of those savings cards and club membership things that none of us really read.

  • mike

    can of black spraypaint and hittin the store as soon as i see this

  • Mitzi

    I think this sounds weird, and I would want to know if it were being used. I have definitely entertained our grocery store’s security cameras during a child extraction (carrying a screaming, thrashing, tantruming 4-year-old out while 8 months pregnant) and can only imagine what joy there would be to “see” me explaining to my kids why I am NOT going to buy the junk food they are begging and whining for.

    I also don’t see how they think they could guess age and gender from any kind of video–I can’t always tell in person with some people (when you’re talking gender, too, that’s pretty embarrassing). I always complete consumer surveys because I think that people in marketing do better, and I have no problem with healthy marketing (or accurate). They would do better to offer something on the shelf, like a coupon for a free product in response to completing a survey or something. There are some products that I buy, but I ONLY buy them if they are on sale AND I have a coupon, making them as close to free as possible. How would they show that someone bought their product only because the unit price was lowest compared to similar items that day? This is how we shop at any rate.

  • Drea

    I dont expect privacy when I’m in public. I assume there are security cameras on me at all times. It is the retailers private property to survey as they wish.

    • screaminginside

      You don’t see an issue with them collecting data on you for no apparent reason other than being able to further profile you for NSA metadata parsing? Why do they need to know who buys their products? Are the products going to change drastically as a result of knowing who buys them? Are they going to get more people to buy a thing through targeted ads than they could have through any previous method? My guess: no. In an ideal world, people would put a thing up for sale, and if it’s good and reasonably priced, people would buy it. End of story. They know who their market is beforehand using internet marketing data, anyway. It’s just another attempt by the ruling class to reach into people’s personal lives for the assorted rulers (Rothschild family, Rockefeller family, Morgan family, etc) and push that agenda so that it gets more and more intrusive over time. It’s under the guise of private sector but these companies have enormous amounts of cash to burn and so do the people that want ubiquitous surveillance and data collection. Same with internet marketing most of the time. Google stores everything you search with them, uses the info they (involuntarily) collect to give you biased (“personalized”) search engine and ad results. Don’t use anything Google unless you hate privacy rights. Use Tor Browser if you want to maintain what’s left of privacy online and in the physical world. Security cameras on the ceilings are enough for me as long as America is still as tyrannical as it is. They’ll have to fight to get me to bend over and spread cheek for them.

  • usaok59

    They won’t see me in the junk food aisle, I’ll be in the produce and beer aisle!

  • Santorum

    As long as they don’t use facial recognition and name matching it’s cool with me. I don’t want any records of what I’m buying anywhere but with me.

    • Liberty

      Facial Recognition will be the obvious next step. And, of course, local, state, and federal governments demanding access to the cameras’ photos/video in short time. It has happened with all other camera footage, why would it not happen with this.

  • piller

    The issue I see is that so many people live in food deserts across the nation – where the only supermarket may be one with cameras on the shelves. They do not have the freedom to easily shop elseware. I don’t have problem with the cameras themselves, but more so with the way our current market for raw food is setup that doesn’t promote a diverse market.

  • gjdagis

    WHY would they need to use this. Many stores issue “member discount cards” that track all of our purchases, anyway.

    • Not Bob

      Analysis of behavior not just purchases, they want to know why you didnt pick their product and you purchase history doesn’t provide that.

  • Matt Whitlock

    Well, you can always go into the store with a paper bag over your head.

  • Margrette

    I think it’s stupid and not right. I don’t think I will buy there products anymore. I will not support this one bit. There soon going to sell toilettes with a camera under my butt to see how much charms. Or cotenelle I use . This is stupid

  • Not Bob

    Soon we will all need to be wearing masks just to go out in public, I recommend a Guy Fawkes mask, especially if the day is November 5th !

    • Crystal Gonzalez

      Remember remember the 5th of November….

  • Crystal Gonzalez

    Will people be aware that these cameras are present? Will there be some kind of sign or something? If not, then its a privacy violation. If so, and people still choose to shop there…. hmm…

    • Crystal Gonzalez

      Also, could these cameras be used for other purposes besides research?

  • Mathias Schleiden

    How will this information be used? Will we need to approve of terms and conditions upon entering the store?

    Very important questions to ask.

    • Eye Open

      All data collected will be sent among other places to the Great NSA Database. Who should we have privacy from? The Fourth Amendment was written to protect citizens from government spying. Protection of privacy like that might have saved millions from NAZI Germany, if they had and protected rights like our nation’s founders laid down. Unfortunately those who’ve violated our rights have not been kicked out of office.

      Like everything, though, the terms of use drift over time, with a natural tendency to always drift in the wrong way while you’re not watching. Doing too much too fast triggers too many people to take a stand at once for the plan to succeed.

  • cynthia

    Research “Church of Stop Shopping” “Reverend Bill” (smile) http://www.revbilly.com

  • Lisa Liel

    There’s a trick you can do with a handful of LEDs that’ll anonymize you to spy cameras.

    • hipposelect

      Well, come on….share the secret.

      • Lisa Liel

        I’m trying to find it. I saw it online. Basically, it’s just a string of cheap LEDs with a little battery to power them. You put it around your neck. They’re not all that bright to the naked eye, but they leave a big ugly glow on camera that obscures your face.

        • Rob

          Infrared LEDs. They are invisible to the naked eye but extremely bright to cameras. For an example, point your TV remote at your cell phone camera and see what happens. Keep in mind that those are incredibly weak LEDs, too.

          • Lisa Liel
          • hipposelect

            That’s WAY cool! Thanks for the link. Now we just need something to hide our license plates…….I know I got this reflective spray that will foil flashes from camera controlled intersections, but who knows what else is going on these days.

          • Jonathan

            You know that’s illegal to interfere with those cameras by tampering your license plate right?

          • Dan

            Who cares!

        • http://annonusa.tumblr.com/ Joe AnnonUSA

          They need to be infrared LEDS.

  • http://annonusa.tumblr.com/ Joe AnnonUSA

    Once again, the real problem here is not the “intended” reason, but what additional surveillance, recording or record keeping will be done with the information collected. Which makes the collection of it troubling.

  • Incognito

    I think it’s beyond an invasion of privacy.. GET OUT OF MY FACE! If I want you in my business, I’ll let you know.. and grocery stores have no business in my business.

  • Tony H Andrews

    shop elsewhere…mom and pop stores

    • BoostedSRT

      I would but Wal-Mart ate them

  • Gregory Alan of Johnson

    Might be time to covertly carry a hammer in 2015.

    • TheRealEvilGenius

      A roll of electrical tape will work nicely.

      • Gloria Peron

        tape won’t cost the store nothing, just cleaner to clean the lense. Now a hammer……

      • Tannim

        Sharpies…

  • Clarke

    This seems ineffective to begin with. The most effective method I have seen is Kroger’s shoppers card. When you sign up for a card you are supposed to give them all this demographic information including address. Then when you make purchases you scan the card to receive a discount. Usually amounts to 1-5% but can be much more. This information is sent to a database that stores the information for marketing. They even tried a biometric system utilizing fingerprints to link you to the card but it was very cumbersome and did not function well so they eliminated it. Wow, i was pretty young when I worked there. Looking back on these facts with mature eyes is rather frightening.
    I know not all grocery stores use this, but it makes age and sex info linked to individual products pretty mundane.
    On the other hand I am quite tired of being filmed everywhere. The scary part is if we really do reach a 1984 gestapo style state where people are criminalized and targeted for no reason, the infrastructure is already there for a total police state with nowhere to hide.

    • TheRealEvilGenius

      That’s why when you apply for those cards you don’t give truthful information.

    • BoostedSRT

      yeah I never give them my real info….

  • BambiB

    So, pick up their products and relocate them to other parts of the store. ;-)

  • BambiB

    You know, we could just not buy their products anymore.

  • LibertyChick

    Wow – we can’t have incandescent light bulbs because they use too much energy, but they can build huge data processing plants. Then raise the cost of the products to pay for their intrusive manner of gathering info on buyers. Aren’t they successful enough?

  • matt

    we should just all start shopping with guy fawkes masks

  • Corey

    dang son…I can’t believe this kinda crap. History always repeats itself when ignorant and arrogant are in power. The world my kids and there kids are going to live is gonna suck. No-one will be able to be left alone. Seriously…..can I just do what I want without people trying to gather data?

  • Daniel Olson

    And all it takes is a small piece of masking tape to disable them. I wonder if that would be considered vandalism

  • BoostedSRT

    I’m actually very excited about this. I can’t wait to troll them….Everyone should troll the shit out of them. Just act odd, do strange things, maybe pick your nose close up. Pick up peanut butter and then dog treats and show them to the camera.

  • billjcanada

    Another use for duct tape.

  • Gabe

    And it’s a given of course that the courts and all of the various law enforcement agencies will have access upon request to these cinematic records of our shopping habits.

  • Richard Branam

    :) Its very likely time for the dollar to crash and I mean crash 000000 value. This is the only way for all manipulation of what we think and how we feel to end or we can also stand up boycott the dam infringement and shut them down :)

  • will C

    There are no laws stopping me from shopping in a balaklava, I suppose…

  • Jazzmine

    Collecting data on what? What kinda of people buy Lucky Charms?

  • Slim_Strontem

    EASY solution: Everyone cover the cameras with frosting or other sticky messy substances. Retailers will not long spend their time following all the customers to keep them clean.
    —-
    I figured a similar system was already in place w/ existing “security” cameras. Perhap it is cheaper for smaller corps to have their own systems.

  • steveo

    Do “we the people” have a say in anything anymore?? When did the elite and government decide they can do whatever they want?? Will we the people ever stand up, oh wait Duck Dynasty is on, I gotta run.

  • Spam Here

    The future is in masks.

    • Tannim

      And Sharpies to mark over the lenses.

  • Greg Price

    I find it darkly amusing that the SAME people who screech and scream like chimpanzees and fling poo about “privacy” when government does this all to typically respond to private sector doing the same thing with “their business, their right”.