Wednesday, 26 July 2023

Amazon rolling out PAY-BY-PALM services as new payment tech at all Whole Foods Market stores

 Amazon, the tech and retail giant and the parent company of Whole Foods, announced on July 20 that it is expanding its pay-by-palm services known as Amazon One to all Whole Foods Market stores across the United States.

Initially launched in 2021, Amazon One will be fully operational for both payment and Prime membership benefits to more than 500 upscale grocery chain locations in the U.S. by the end of this year. Instead of conventional payment methods, customers will simply hover their palms over an Amazon One device to complete transactions.

The advanced palm recognition technology that creates a unique palm signature for each user, launched one of its newest features – the integration with Amazon Prime. Customers who link their Prime membership to their Amazon One profile will automatically receive savings every time their palm is scanned.

However, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) Executive Director Albert Fox Cahn warned customers about the dangers of using biometrics information.

"Biometric data is one of the only ways that companies and governments can track us permanently. You can change your name, you can change your Social Security number, but you can’t change your palm print," he said. "The more we normalize these tactics, the harder they will be to escape. If we don’t [draw a] line in the sand here, I am very fearful what our future will look like."

Amazon sued for secretly collecting biometrics data

In March, Amazon faced a lawsuit in New York City, accusing the company of violating the city's laws by failing to inform customers that their biometric information was being collected at the NYC Amazon Go store.

According to the complaint filed by STOP on behalf of shopper Alfredo Rodriguez Perez, Amazon Go stores continuously collect and utilize customers' biometric identifier information, including palm scans and body measurements, to identify customers, track their movements and determine purchases. 

Amazon Go store, known for its "Just Walk Out" technology, allows customers to enter the store by scanning the app, picking the items they desire and leaving without going through traditional checkouts. Biometric data collection, such as scanning palms and tracking customers' movements, is integral to this technology.

However, in 2021, New York City implemented a law requiring all commercial establishments that collect, store and retain biometric identifier information to clearly inform consumers through conspicuous signs at all entrances. The law covers identifiers like fingerprints, hand prints, body shapes, retina scans and facial recognition.

The lawsuit alleged that Amazon neglected to post any of the required signs until a New York Times story highlighted their biometric data collection practices, more than a year after the law's enactment. Furthermore, the signs that were later displayed were claimed to be non-compliant with the city's law in terms of their wording, appearance and placement.


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