Privacy campaigners slam Piccadilly advertising board for being 'intrusive'

Revamped screen to have cameras inside to detect people’s faces, age, mood

London’s famous Picadilly advertising board, which had been out of action for nine months, is scheduled to be switched on later this month but has been embroiled in a privacy campaign this time.

It is being reported that the revamped screen will have cameras hidden inside which can detect people’s faces, age, gender and mood. This information will then be used to tailor brand messages.

Privacy campaigners are now demanding that signs be put up in the area so that public is warned that they are being monitored in a ‘Big Brother’ way.

Renate Samson, chief executive of Big Brother Watch, told Sky News: “From a privacy and security point of view, we think (it) is incredibly intrusive. It literally is Minority Report.”

Ocean Outdoor, the company that provides the screen’s technology, has also confirmed that the system can detect people’s age and gender with 90 per cent accuracy. It can also identify the makes of vehicles and will also feature Wi-Fi to let people interact with the screen.

Landsec, the company who owns the board, has however clarified that the screen does not collect or store personal details or data.

“Although the Piccadilly Lights screen will be able to display advertising content that responds to real-time factors - such as the weather or the color of cars - the technology is not able to recognize individual people or display individually targeted content,” the company stated.

The Piccadilly billboard will be switched on at the end of the month, although Landsec is not giving an exact date as the company does not want to cause congestion, reports suggest. Over 100m visitors reportedly walk past this board each month.

 

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