Co-op supermarkets are using facial recognition cameras made by a Chinese state-owned company to track its shoppers, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The ethical food retailer is using Hikvision’s live facial recognition technology to monitor customers.
Hikvision cameras have been listed as a national security threat in the US while the UK’s Ministry of Defence has issued guidance not to use the company’s equipment.
And the firm has been blacklisted by US authorities over links to human rights abuses against Muslim Uighurs in China while MPs have called for a UK-wide ban.
But at Southern Co-op bosses have rolled out facial recognition technology across 35 stores in the south of England.
An investigation by video surveillance researchers at IPVM, and passed to the Mail on Sunday, found that all nine stores out of the 35 it investigated used Hikvision facial recognition devices.
Live facial recognition is used by Co-op at stores in Southampton, Portsmouth, West London, Bristol and Chichester.
The supermarket’s system is provided by Facewatch, a live facial recognition company which says it helps retailers catch shoplifters and violent customers.
Facewatch says it keeps a database of the faces of ‘subjects of interest’ for two years, though facial recognition technology is known to return large numbers of false matches.