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.

  • @[email protected]
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    4 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 🤦‍♂️

    • @[email protected]
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      1494 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.

      • @[email protected]
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        4 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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        244 months ago

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

      • @[email protected]
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        4 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.

    • @[email protected]
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      454 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.

      • @[email protected]
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        4 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.

        • @[email protected]
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          124 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.

          • @[email protected]
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            24 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
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          4 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.

        • @PlutoniumAcid
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          14 months ago

          Read Big brother by Cory Doctorow while you’re at it. It is excellent!

      • @Railing5132
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        94 months ago

        When society started paying for convenience?

      • @[email protected]
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        4 months ago

        There was a quaint old time, shortly after Google was founded, where people mused about privacy over the internet. It was forgotten about as the profits started rolling in and pretty much all other companies started following along. That was the time when we started transitioning into a period of massive data surveillance. Glad to see that the conversation is starting to pick up again in some areas, though it’s definitely being actively suppressed in many others.

      • @[email protected]
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        14 months ago

        Laws and lawyers. You can’t go there and beat them up. That pretty much paved the way. Money is just a toy to them. So there is zero risk involved.

    • @AnUnusualRelic
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      154 months ago

      “Welcome back, consumer unit number 74665!”

    • @[email protected]
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      134 months ago

      Invenda Wallet allows consumers to browse, select and pay for products leisurely and privately

      I never would’ve questioned that using a vending machine with cash would be anything but private until reading that line.

      (Well, the article was first…but if it wasn’t for the article, that line is sketchy as all hell)

    • @graymess
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      34 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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      4 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.

    • @[email protected]
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      924 months ago

      My guess is to associate which product is best selling to which demographic to better target them.

      So ingenious 🤮

      • @[email protected]
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        124 months ago

        I feel like it’d be tough to find a chip powerful enough to capture demographic attributes while also cheap enough to ship in vending machines? But admittedly I’ve little context on embedded systems and their capabilities

        • @[email protected]
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          414 months ago

          While I have no idea how much a computerized vending machine costs, I found this article about a age/gender classifier that runs on a Raspberry Pi 4.

          Looking at the machine’s big touchscreen, I think this classifier would fit on the SBC or require a relatively small upgrade.

        • @[email protected]
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          34 months ago

          There’s a vending machine in a co-working space I use sometimes that has a full on fridge and oven, and when you order off the touchscreen…something happens inside and sometimes a hot cooked thing comes out. I have no idea how it works and have not used it myself, because it seems possibly kinda gross.

      • Neato
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        164 months ago

        There’s a lot of people in the world who do, in fact, like to eat.

        • @WhatAmLemmy
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          4 months ago

          There are also a lot of people, already in the wealthiest upper percentiles, who would implement big brother just to be slightly wealthier.

          • @jaybone
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            24 months ago

            Problem is, if you refuse to do it, they’ll hire another developer who will.

      • I Cast Fist
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        154 months ago

        There are people who actually believe that kind of dystopic bullshit, even in the tech sector. I remember a colleague a few years ago, told me he liked targeted ads because “it knew what I wanted”

        • @[email protected]
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          74 months ago

          Oh boy, those people frustrate me so much. The ones who have a verbal conversation about a topic they’ve never talked about before, like owning a cat, or taking a cruise to Alaska, and then giggle gleefully when they are inundated with cat litter and cruise ship ads wherever they go on the internet.

          Some people just don’t care. And that’s actually fine. The ones who do care will try to look after the morons.

      • 𝒍𝒆𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒏
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        74 months ago

        Probably exploited labor, similar to those who have no choice but to work in scam call centers to survive.

        Pretty unfortunate that things are like this IMO

        • bjorney
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          04 months ago

          I don’t think software developers working in AI are “exploited labour just doing it to survive”

      • @Aux
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        -224 months ago

        I’d do that. Privacy should not exist. Everything must be public and available to everyone. Every person should have a tracking implant and anyone should be able to access it.

          • @Aux
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            -234 months ago

            Not /s. Privacy is a foreign concept for humans, invented a bit over a century ago. Privacy is a root cause of many social problems in our day and age.

            • @[email protected]
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              124 months ago

              Every person should have a tracking implant and anyone should be able to access it.

              In that case, I would guess that you’re a man, and one who has never had a stalker.

              • @Aux
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                -74 months ago

                Privacy is what enables stalkers.

            • I Cast Fist
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              114 months ago

              Privacy as a human right is, indeed, new. The concept and the desire for it is old. Doing things and not wanting to get caught is as old as walking forward. What, you think the idea of cheating a romantic partner is new? That every military in history and prehistory exchanged letters with one another, saying what they were doing? That every important and “important” person always exposed everything they did and thought to everyone?

              Also, keep in mind there’s a significant number of serious journalists that need privacy in order to do their job of exposing crimes. I can already see you replying “They wouldn’t need to do that if everything was public”. True, but that would also mean that tyrants and wannabe tyrants would have incredible ease in killing everyone they disliked.

              • @Aux
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                04 months ago

                Well, you said it yourself - you only need privacy to commit a crime or to cheat on someone. Privacy should NOT exist!

                • I Cast Fist
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                  04 months ago

                  Huh, I didn’t know preparing surprises (parties, gifts, trips) was a crime. Today I Learned /s

    • @[email protected]
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      124 months ago

      “local only”

      Even if it’s technically local-only, pretty easy for a tech to drive by and pull data it’s stored.

      Or when it gets filled.

    • @[email protected]
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      54 months ago

      You know, when technology really got started, I had dreams about tech knowing me, doing things for me, acting in my best interest. Smile at the cashier, and my bill is paid, entering any public building, and I’m added to the queue, my documents already there… A vending machine would know me, holding back that last Snickers bar, because it knew that I would come by today…

      It could have been good. It could have been right. On another planet, with another species. :')

    • @[email protected]
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      24 months ago

      Best case scenario the machine has some sort of standard software with facial recognition code, but no hardware in the machine. Would he interesting to know.

  • @ikidd
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    914 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
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      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.

        • @[email protected]
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          -194 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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            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
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              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
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            44 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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            14 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
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        304 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.

      • AwkwardLookMonkeyPuppet
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        104 months ago

        Your face, retinas, and fingerprints are keys to unlock digital assets.

        • @Death_Equity
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          54 months ago

          Using those biometrics to access anything without a warrant is legal and not protected by the 4th or 5th amendments.

      • @[email protected]
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        94 months ago

        That’s where the laws come in. I don’t agree that recording and biometric information on people should be legally protected, unless you ask for permission first.

  • kbal
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    554 months ago

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

    • @[email protected]
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      234 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 🤮

          • @Rolando
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            84 months ago

            Renting is owning.

            Downloading is theft.

        • @[email protected]
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          24 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
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    484 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?

  • @[email protected]
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    474 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!

      • @[email protected]
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        134 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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          24 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
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    324 months ago

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

  • Alien Nathan Edward
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    314 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.

    • Ogmios
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      Yea, we need to fight to make sure that the state-industrial complex tracking our every movement is focused on punishing OUR so-called enemies, as defined by a small handful of Internet based social clubs (controlled and operated by people we know next to nothing about).

    • @Omgpwnies
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      44 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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      84 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
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        54 months ago

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

          • @fidodo
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            24 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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          34 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.