Photo + Video: Macy’s back-to-school facial recognition action in DC

Posted August 22, 2021 at 7:06 PM

For immediate release: Monday, August 22, 2021
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Over the weekend, activists called out Macy’s for harvesting biometric data from children shopping before the school year begins. The action took place at the G Street Macy’s in Washington, DC and featured a mobile billboard calling on Macy’s to end its “creepy” facial recognition program and stop surveilling kids.

Photos are available for use here:

A reel of 4k video clips are available for use here:

According to the scorecard at, Macy’s is the only major retailer that has confirmed and doubled down on its use of facial recognition, even as legislators move to limit or ban this invasive technology. Other back-to-school mainstays such as Target, Kroger, Costco, Gap, Burlington, and Staples have all indicated that they will not use facial recognition in their stores.

“Macy’s is flat-out on the wrong side of human rights when they use invasive surveillance technology to harvest sensitive biometric data on customers and their kids,” said Lia Holland (she/they), Campaigns & Communications Director at Fight for the Future, the digital rights group that organized the action. “Facial recognition is an experimental technology that is proven to disproportionately misidentify anyone who isn’t a white adult man and put them in harm’s way. We also don’t know whether Macy’s is selling the databases they collect on adults and kids—if a second grade back-to-school shopper has a meltdown in Macy’s, will that data be sold off and impact their school admissions or what jobs they’re hired for down the road? Will videos bbe handed over to police who might mark these kids as “risky”? No one, least of all children, can meaningfully consent to the ways this data might be exploited and abused.”

Macy’s is being under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act for collecting such data without the knowledge and consent of customers. Meanwhile, children are experiencing the harms of retailers and schools using facial recognition. Recently, a 14 year old Black girl was separated from her friends and kicked out of a roller rink after facial recognition misidentified her.

See the full list of retailers and whether or not they use facial recognition in their stores here.

The full list of organizations signed on to the Ban Facial Recognition in Stores campaign are: 18 Million Rising, Access Now, Action Center on Race and the Economy, Consumer Federation of America, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Data for Black Lives, Demand Progress, Encode Justice, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Fairplay, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jobs with Justice, Just Futures Law, Kairos Action, Lucy Parsons Labs, Mijente, Muslim Justice League, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Immigration Law Center, National Lawyers Guild, Oakland Privacy, Open Media, PDX Privacy, Popular Resistance,, Public Citizen, Raices Texas, Restore the Fourth, Roots Action, Secure Justice, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.), The Tor Project, United for Respect, X-Lab.