Bond Meets Bond Street: Mannequins are Watching You Shop

An Italian company, Almax S.p.A., is selling a mannequin (price tag about $5,000) in a development that is being closely watched – literally – by retailers, consumers and, of course, regulators and privacy gurus. The new product, marketed as the EyeSee Mannequin, contains a camera embedded in the mannequins eyes, and according to the company’s website: “This product will do much more; it would make it possible to ‘observe’ who is attracted by your windows and reveal important details about your customers: age range; gender; race; number of people and time spent.”

In Europe and the United States, the mannequins are making sporadic appearances – perhaps in showrooms and even in street-side display windows, gathering data as people saunter by the store gazing into the windows. According to reports, Almax may also be testing auditory capabilities that would allow a mannequin to not only see, but to hear what customers are saying as well. Hey, did you just call that mannequin a dummy?


(Image from Almax Website)


The EyeSee Mannequin has a camera placed as an “eye” that includes facial recognition technology that records information about passersby, such as their gender and race, and the software guesstimates the approximate age of each person scanned by the camera. Typically, cameras can be used in retail stores for security, but in many jurisdictions the shop owners are required to post signs alerting consumers browsing the aisles that they are subject to being recorded. Now, the EyeSee Mannequin gives retailers the ability to collect and store information for marketing purposes – a commercial purpose that may put the technology squarely under a microscope (these vision puns really must stop), since it collects personal data about individuals without their consent. That said, the current product is only supposed to record information, not any actual photographs or image scans, but . . . it could, couldn’t it?

Need to know more about the legal implications of technology in advertising and marketing? Concerned about your rights (and wrongs) in deploying surveillance equipment and gathering data and information about customers and consumers? Are you up-to-date on the latest privacy and compliance requirements? Not sure? Need to see these issues more clearly? OK, don’t be a dummy (I mean mannequin) and consult your lawyer. Don’t hesitate to contact me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum, or the Rimon lawyer with whom you regularly work. We would be happy to see you, hear you and help you.

The NLRB Shops at Costco. Says Dish Network Can’t Stop Employee ‘Dissing’

This post was written by Joel S. Barras and Eugene K. Connors

Employers, what do you need to do NOW? You need to scrutinize your social media policies!

Employers cannot forbid employees from disparaging their employers – at least not with overly broad and sweeping restrictions. An NLRB Administrative Law Judge, following the lead of the NLRB from its recent decision in Costco Wholesale Inc., invalidated social media and other employment policies of DISH Network, Inc. The invalidated policies (1) prohibited employees from disparaging the company on social media sites; (2) required preapproval from management before speaking about the company to the media or at public meetings; and (3) limited employee communication with government agencies. You can read the actual decision here.

President Obama’s re-election will undoubtedly translate into increased scrutiny on employer social media and other personnel policies. For example, under continued attack will be certain types of at-will employment status, classification of independent contractors, requiring confidentiality during investigations of alleged workplace misconduct, the viability of class action waivers and agreements to arbitrate in employee handbooks, and individual employment agreements.

You can read our full Social Media White Paper on the impact of Social Media on the business community. In addition, some of our previous blog posts containing more in-depth analyses of these issues and other recent NLRB attacks on employer policies, including our update on employment issues, can be found here.

So what are you waiting for . . . dust off those social media policies, read these materials and make sure your policies aren’t the next ones "dissed" by the NLRB. As always, if you need help or more information, contact Joel S. Barras or Eugene K. Connors. Of course, you can always contact me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.