At Cannabis Dispensaries, Facial Recognition Software program Is Currently a Factor. What About Privacy Challenges?


As you strategy the machine, in-retailer cameras feed pictures to algorithms that analyze your look to decide if you could be carrying a weapon, and evaluate your face to millions of photographs in a law enforcement database. When you lastly attain the kiosk, it scans your face, identifies you as a returning buyer, and greets you with a coupon for your favourite cannabis solution.

This might sound like a scene from a sci-fi film, but these tools are employed in cannabis dispensaries currently. The cannabis business is embracing new technologies like facial recognition and sophisticated video analytics all through the provide chain—from develop rooms and processing facilities to distribution centers and retail dispensaries. The businesses behind the technologies say it added benefits cannabis firms, workers, and buyers. But in an business marred by decades of mass-incarcerationthat has discriminated against communities of colour, face surveillance poses severe privacy dangers, and can very easily be employed for targeted harassment.

“It is difficult, if not not possible, to discover an instance of a surveillance technologies that has not been turned against groups that are currently vulnerable in our structurally inequitable program,” mentioned Shankar Narayan, Director of the Technologies and Liberty Project at the ACLU of Washington, in an interview with Motherboard. Even though legal for health-related or recreational use in 33 states, cannabis remains illegal below federal law. For the reason that it occupies a legal grey location, banks are hesitant to touch the business, creating it mainly an all-money small business and an desirable target for thieves. In Denver, Colorado, alone, there had been 34 reported dispensary robberies in the very first half of 2019.

Some tech businesses see the danger of theft as an chance to sell facial recognition systems. Don Deason, VP of Sales for Blue Line Technologies, claims his company’s platform has substantially decreased cannabis robberies. It operates like this: When shoppers strategy the front door of a dispensary, audiovisual cues prompt them to appear up at a camera. If they comply, the program records an image of their faces, and the front door opens. If they decline or their faces are obscured, by a mask for instance, then access is denied.


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