HomeWinBuzzer NewsAI-Powered Face Recognition Mistakenly Tags Innocent as Shoplifter

AI-Powered Face Recognition Mistakenly Tags Innocent as Shoplifter

The company behind the facial recognition technology, Facewatch, has acknowledged the error.


Home Bargains, a British retail chain, has wrongfully accused a customer of shoplifting due to a system error. This incident caused significant distress for her, who was searched, escorted out, and banned from the store. Facewatch, the company behind the facial recognition technology, has admitted to the mistake.

As the customer entered the Home Bargains store with the intention of buying chocolate. Within moments, a store employee confronted her, accusing her of theft and demanding she leave. Staff searched her bag before escorting her out and banning her from the premises. Facewatch later issued an apology, acknowledging that their facial recognition system had incorrectly identified her.

British Retailers use Facial Recognition

Facewatch's facial recognition software is used by several British retailers to identify potential shoplifters. However, the error in this case raises serious concerns about the technology's reliability and accuracy. This wrongful identification has sparked discussions about the broader implications of using AI in retail, particularly regarding privacy and the risk of harming innocent individuals.

Related Incidents and Broader Context

This is not an isolated incident. There have been other cases where facial recognition technology has misidentified individuals, leading to wrongful accusations and personal distress. For instance, a skating rink's facial recognition cameras mistakenly identified a Black teenager as a banned troublemaker in 2021. In 2023, the UK's Department of Work and Pensions faced allegations of discrimination due to an opaque fraud detection algorithm.

Recently, updated its policy to prohibit U.S. police departments from utilizing  for  purposes through its Azure OpenAI Service. The Azure  Service, a comprehensive, enterprise-grade suite built around OpenAI's technologies, now includes in its terms of service that explicitly forbids the use of its capabilities for facial recognition tasks “by or for” police departments within the United States.

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.