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Australia probes retail giants over customer ‘faceprints’

Australia probes retail giants over customer ‘faceprints’

Australia probes retail giants over customer ‘faceprints’

Australia probes retail giants over customer ‘faceprints’. (Credits: google)

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  • Kmart and Bunnings use facial recognition technology to take “faceprints” of customers.
  • AIC has started an investigation to see if privacy rules have been broken.
  • Retailers must be able to prove their response is appropriate, Commissioner Angelene Falk said.
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The privacy watchdog in Australia has opened an investigation into the usage of facial recognition technology by two major retailers.

In some places, retailers Kmart and the hardware company Bunnings take “faceprints” of their patrons.

The technology is immoral, invasive, and being utilised without the required consent or justification, according to consumer advocacy group Choice.

Both retailers defended its application as a safety and theft-prevention tool.

According to the Australian Information Commissioner, an investigation has been launched to see if privacy rules have been broken.

According to Angelene Falk, Australian merchants are only permitted to gather private biometric data if it is “reasonably essential” for their business operations and they have “clear consent.”

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While preventing theft and fostering a safe atmosphere are vital aims, Commissioner Falk stated last month that utilising high privacy impact technologies in stores has major privacy risks.

Retailers must be able to prove that their response is appropriate.

She discovered that the convenience store chain 7-Eleven violated customers’ privacy by gathering faceprints in a related incident last year.

The watchdog added that it was also “doing inquiries” into The Good Guys, a different retail chain that has stopped using facial recognition software.

Before Australia has precise regulations governing its usage, the Australian Human Rights Commission has advocated for a ban on the technology. It happened after Western Australian police used it for Covid isolation tests.

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Choice said that Kmart and Bunnings only disclosed their use of the technology in privacy policies online and in tiny “conditions of entry” placards at the front of their stores.

More than 75% of the houses questioned by the consumer group, which involved more than 1,000 people, were unaware that the technology was being used.

According to Choice’s Kate Bower, using facial recognition technology in this manner is comparable to Kmart, Bunnings, or The Good Guys collecting your fingerprints or DNA each time you shop.

According to Bunnings, the technology’s use has been mischaracterized and is subject to tight regulations.

It claims that the information gathered is not utilised for marketing and that the only pictures kept are of persons who have been asked to leave stores or who are thought to have engaged in illegal or dangerous behaviour.

According to chief operating officer Simon McDowell, “in recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of challenging interactions our team has had to handle in our stores. This technology is an important tool in helping us to prevent repeat abuse and threatening behaviour towards our team and customers.

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A Kmart representative added that the device was “under trial” and subject to tight safeguards in order to avoid theft.

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