A set of smart vending machines at the University of Waterloo is expected to be removed from campus after students raised privacy concerns about their software.

The machines have M&M artwork on them and sell chocolate and other candy. They are located throughout campus, including in the Modern Languages building and Hagey Hall.

Earlier this month, a student noticed an error message on one of the machines in the Modern Languages building. It appeared to indicate there was a problem with a facial recognition application.

“We wouldn’t have known if it weren’t for the application error. There’s no warning here,” said River Stanley, a fourth-year student, who investigated the machines for an article in the university publication, mathNEWS.

  • @jeffhykin@lemm.ee
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    2 months ago

    It gets worse :/

    I looked up the brand (Invenda). Their PDF includes “using AI”, “measuring foot traffic”, and gathering “gender/age/etc” e.g. facial recognition to estimate a persons age and gender

    And in terms of “stored locally” this is straight from their website

    The machine comes with a “brain” – Invenda OS – and is connected to the Invenda Cloud, which allows you to manage it remotely and gather valuable environmental, consumer and transactional data. The device can be branded according to your requirements to further enhance your brand presence.

    The marketing also so fricken backwards that it reads like satire:

    For a consumer, there’s no greater comfort than shopping pressure-free. Invenda Wallet allows consumers to browse, select and pay for products leisurely and privately 🤦‍♂️

    • @neutron@thelemmy.club
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      1472 months ago

      I’m dreading for the day they introduce dynamic pricing based on who’s buying and refuses to sell without a full face scan.

      • @jeffhykin@lemm.ee
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        2 months ago

        What really bothers me is the “measuring foot traffic”. I already refuse to use vending-machines because of the pricing and unhealthyness, but you’re telling me I need to make GDPR takedown requests just for walking to class?

        • Also this is data that any reasonable company could get in like half an hour of searching and asking.

          There is data on how many meals are sold a day at the mensa, how many students are enrolled, how many students live on campus…

          Unless the vending machine is in the last corner of the third floor of an half empty building, all this information can be puzzled together to get a good estimate of how many people are passing the machine on a day to day basis.

      • livus
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        242 months ago

        Fast food franchises always charge more in poor areas, I wonder if dynamic pricing would charge poor people more as well.

      • @federico3@lemmy.ml
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        2 months ago

        People panic about face scan while the ongoing massive privacy breaches exist around online services and electronic devices. The amount of personal data that people pour into smartphones is enormous compared to using that vending machine. We need more GDPR.

    • @ipkpjersi@lemmy.ml
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      402 months ago

      They have to make it sound like it’s private and secure, but it really isn’t. It’s sad how dystopian our future is becoming.

      • @octopus_ink@lemmy.ml
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        2 months ago

        I keep telling my zoomer son he needs to read 1984. Not to live his life in fear of it, but to help his awareness of it, and provide an example of what that sort of societal control can look like. It’s probably the one thing I nag him about. 5 years later he still hasn’t read it. lol

        I haven’t read it in decades, but I still feel it’s hard to miss certain parallels with modern reality when you have.

        • @InputZero@lemmy.ml
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          102 months ago

          A good book to pair with 1984 is A Brave New World. They both tackle forms of control but from two different approaches. In A Brave New World there’s no need for thought police. Every person is designed and crafted from conception to adulthood to never have a criminal thought.

          • @octopus_ink@lemmy.ml
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            22 months ago

            That’s another good one! Thanks for reminding me of it! Kind of ironically I read most of that book while hiding from my job (that’s a story) in the bathroom for short periods of time in my early twenties.

        • @kalpol@lemmy.world
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          2 months ago

          That plus Helen Nissenbaum. When you read 1984 and then start thinking about the concept of future contexts changing use of private data, you get real nervous.

    • @graymess@lemmy.world
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      32 months ago

      Vending machines used to get vandalized at my school. How much tech are they putting in these things now?

    • voxel
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      2 months ago

      beuh, they obviously mean that the biometric data is stored and processed locally, not the data that results from that processing.
      i mean that’s still kinda creepy but you’re making it seem like they didn’t obviously admit to it in the original sentence.

  • @ikidd@lemmy.world
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    782 months ago

    A massive and punitive fine for anyone gathering biometric data without express permssion would be a great way to discourage other companies from bringing that shit around. A billion or two ought to do it.

    • @Death_Equity@lemmy.world
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      2 months ago

      Your face is not private, nor are your fingerprints. In public and in many private properties that are open to the public(e.g. stores) you have no expectation of privacy so you can be filmed within the law. You consent to facial recognition by passive agreement when you enter the public without your face covered.

      Facial recognition technology is everywhere and there is nothing that will be done to curb it’s use.

      Edit: To be clear, I do not support anyone or any entity using biometric data for any purpose except verification of identity for security purposes with intentional consent. Businesses or government using biometric data, or any data obtained without clear and willful consent, is unacceptable.

        • @Rodeo@lemmy.ca
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          -172 months ago

          It’s not apathy, it’s an observation of the legal status of the situation.

          Legally, you have no reasonable expectations of privacy in a public space, and as such anyone is free to record you. I don’t think fingerprint data being collected from devices available to the public has been tried in court yet, but audio and video recordings certainly have been.

          It’s actually a good thing. Imagine if it was illegal for you to video cops.

          • queermunist she/her
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            2 months ago

            Legality can change, that’s literally what we’re talking about. It’s legal now, it doesn’t have to be.

            Also just declare that cops don’t have a right to privacy. Easy.

            • @okamiueru@lemmy.world
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              2 months ago

              You are so right. I’m dumbfounded by how apathetic Americans are when it comes to politics. The idea of making the change you want to see, seems like a foreign concept. This will bring in a lot of downvotes, but I’d be happy to find some kind of online community that excludes Americans. And, I don’t mean by nationality, or even geography. Just this… acceptance of political depravity. In the US, you get the choice between “bat shit insane”. And, if don’t like that, you can vote Republican instead, which is orders of magnitude worse, with layers of vile shit. I’m tired. Most problems are so simple to solve. But the arguments are always presented between two things that don’t matter.

              Good luck. I’m gonna see if there is a lemmy community that actively blocks “American mentality”. Which is hilarious, because a lot of Americans express that lemmy is “extremely communist / anti capitalist” etc. Which is just what “common sense” looks like to Americans.

          • @Death_Equity@lemmy.world
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            42 months ago

            Most states do not have any laws which restrict how biometrics are used. So using your fingerprint, face, or iris to checkout at the store doesn’t have any protections that would prevent that biometric data from being sent somewhere else, including the police. A store could gather facial or even iris data from a camera and you would have no idea because they don’t have to tell you.

            Worse is that most people don’t see the problem with the digital panopticon because “they haven’t done anything wrong” and they are willing to give up their data for the idea of a theoretical safety.

          • Kilgore Trout
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            12 months ago

            Because the United States are the only country in the world.

            In Italy it is illegal to share recordings in public without the recorded people’s consent.

            “Cops” are public servants, as such it is always allowed to record and share.

      • @Doug7070@lemmy.world
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        262 months ago

        There is a massive fundamental difference between having a person see your face in public, or even having a basic security camera record your face, and having a system recognize your biometric data and stalk you through every public environment with extreme precision.

        The general public should absolutely not accept the imposition of being expected to be followed through every public place by private corporate entities for undisclosed purposes. We can and should aggressively push government representatives to take strong regulatory action to outlaw this behavior and aggressively punish violations.

        Will making these efforts actually change matters? Maybe, maybe not. Will throwing your hands up and just assuming it’s impossible to change anything and that we should all just lay down and accept it as fact lead to the worst possible outcome? Absolutely.

  • kbal
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    542 months ago

    Yet another demonstration that the primary meaning of “smart” has come to be “unbelievably stupid.”

    • @OpenStars@startrek.website
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      242 months ago

      The definition of pretty much every word these days has been hijacked to mean the exact opposite - like Google lets you “search” for things you “want”, and Reddit would “connect” you to “humans people”, FaceBook will steal all of your data share “news”, again from “people”, and so on.

      I pretty much think of “smart” as now meaning “tactically weaponized to maximize corpo profits” - you know, “for your convenience”!:-P 🤮

        • @OpenStars@startrek.website
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          22 months ago

          I should probably read that - I figured that I get the gist having read Animal Farm but hey, if we are going to live out the irl version then it might be good to at least say that I read about it first!:-P

          It is fascinating how some people see far (ahead), by virtue of seeing clear (to the soul/center of the human condition) - technology may change but we don’t seem to. Asimov, Jules Verne, George Orwell, they are like techno- or cultural prophets, not that we listened, sadly:-(.

          C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia) in addition to being a christian apologist also wrote philosophy about how Hitler was able to influence Europe during WWII, and I found that just fascinating e.g. if you avoid ever saying a thing but instead just act as if it is true then it is a way to avoid it being questioned. Evil people have access to so many tricks that a free & just society would never condone using (another big one lately is misinformation), nor would it even so much work in the other direction b/c getting people to question things is a major bonus in such a society so it’s at best an anti-pattern there, and yet I wish we were much more aware of them b/c otherwise it is like facing a pathogen with no immune system.

          Anyway thank you for reminding me of those quotes:-).

  • @BradleyUffner@lemmy.world
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    472 months ago

    Regardless of the privacy issues, if this is actually a default feature of this machine, why does the camera hole look like it was put there with a hammer?

  • @Guntrigger@feddit.ch
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    442 months ago

    Students believe there is a camera inside this hole on the vending machine

    Students and their silly beliefs. Don’t worry about that lens shining in the hole. It’s just a useless hole!

      • @Rodeo@lemmy.ca
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        132 months ago

        that’s vandalism and can get you in trouble.

        A simple sticker though, which can be easily removed, doesn’t count as vandalism, and can be done over and over again for almost no cost.

        • lettruthout
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          22 months ago

          That or a more elaborate sticker/photo taped far enough away so the camera may focus on it. Maybe an image of Alfred E. Neuman? Or some kind of FU meme?

  • @devilish666@lemmy.world
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    312 months ago

    Hmm… facial recognition vending machine huh…
    Finally it’s time for my jammer & some script from c/netsec to shine

  • Eepy Thompson
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    272 months ago

    who’s hype for the state-industrial complex to track our every movement! surely this combined with a right wing political movement that is increasingly focused on punishing so-called enemies will never lead to a complete humanitarian disaster.

    • @Omgpwnies@lemmy.world
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      32 months ago

      Throw in S-210, which could likely support face tracking tech for age verification, also handled by a third party. I thought Nineteen Eighty-Four was supposed to be a cautionary tale, not a playbook…

    • pewter
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      72 months ago

      Technology does way more than what some consumers want without adding enough value. Ring doorbell just grossly increased their ring protect plan cost and I’m starting to wonder:

      “Why are we paying monthly subscriptions for them to just store two months of snapshots with a few videos?”

      • @fidodo@lemmy.world
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        42 months ago

        We need open standards for data storage so we can have more freedom in how our data is stored.

          • @fidodo@lemmy.world
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            22 months ago

            Definitely, but I’d like to see more accessible solutions for less technical people, and that’s possible with inter operative standards. It would be great if regulatory bodies required that all hardware supported at least one open standard.

        • pewter
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          32 months ago

          Absolutely. Nowadays you could afford an external hard drive to store such a small amount of videos. Plus, it gives you the benefit of having fewer eyes on your data. The notion of storing data on the cloud turns me off of having certain indoor cameras.

  • @Aggravationstation@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    The pharmacist at my local Tesco once told me I was buying paramol too often. It had been at least a year since I last bought it.

    This told me that:

    A. They’re using facial recognition to track purchases

    B. There’s either not enough info provided by it or enough training on it’s use

  • @Dagwood222@lemm.ee
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    72 months ago

    [off topic?]

    New York City is moving away from people paying for subway/bus rides with a pre-paid card or cash and going to a system where you pay with your credit card or smart wallet. Nice way to quietly monitor everyone’s location and habits.

    • @FriendBesto@lemmy.ml
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      32 months ago

      Sadly. Many people do not see things like you --correctly-- do. In my city, they are pushing people onto cards, which track everything, including transfers, and how? The fare on the card is like 5 cents cheaper. Many people have no foresight.

  • @Omega_Haxors@lemmy.ml
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    2 months ago

    This just in, slavery co. branded machines have been found partaking in illegal espionage, much to everyone’s shock.

  • @const_void@lemmy.ml
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    This story seems fishy. Why would the hole for the facial recognition camera be so poorly made? It looks like someone made it with a screwdriver, not something that was made in a factory.

    Edit: got it