Error code in broken vending machine prompts students to action

2 mins read
Error code in broken vending machine prompts students to action
The machines had no warning that users' faces would be scanned and analyzed (Unsplash/Unsplash)

After a vending machine broke down at the University of Waterloo in Canada, it was revealed that some of these machines on campus use facial recognition technology.

The incident was discovered in early February when a snack machine displayed Invenda.Vending.FacialRecognition.App.exe. Before that, no cameras were visible, nor were there any other signs that the machines had cameras.

River Stanley, who reported on the incident for the university newspaper, told national broadcaster CTV News:

We wouldn’t have found out if the app hadn’t failed. There’s no warning.

The University of Waterloo issued a statement stressing that these machines will be removed “as soon as possible” and that the facial recognition program will be asked to shut down in the meantime.

University students started covering the holes with chewing gum and paper, believing that there was a camera behind them.

Invenda, the company that makes the machines, prides itself on using “demographic measurement software” to determine the gender and age of customers.

Reporting on the incident, the Guardian noted that the Swiss-based organization claims to meet European Union privacy standards, but it is unclear how well it complies with Canadian laws.

Retail giant Canadian Tire was in the news in April for violating privacy laws in British Columbia for using facial recognition technology without informing customers.

At the time, the Canadian government said that even if the company informed customers, it could not provide a reasonable justification for collecting this information.

Guardian, CTV


The ancient idea tries to provide the most accurate information to its readers in all the content it publishes.