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Bunnings and Kmart have stopped using facial recognition technology in stores because the Privacy Watchdog is investigating.Face recognition

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Kmart and Bunnings have suspended the use of facial recognition technology in stores during an investigation by Australian privacy regulators.

Last month’s consumer group Choice revealed that Bunnings and Kmart are using video cameras to capture and store images of people’s faces for use as a unique face photo that can be compared to other face photos. .. Staff to reduce theft in some stores.

Both companies are currently being investigated by the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) ​​office for their use of technology and their compliance with privacy laws.

Mike Schneider, managing director of the Bunnings Warehouse, has confirmed an AFR report that the company has notified OAIC that the Bunnings Warehouse has stopped using the technology.

Schneider condemned the “misunderstanding” choice of the issue and said the technology was only used to detect when a person banned from the Bunnings Store would enter the store.

“If you offend your team, pull weapons, spit, or throw punches, you’re off limits to the store. But if it’s difficult to enforce, the ban isn’t effective. No, “he said.

“Facial recognition gives us the opportunity to identify when a banned person will enter the store, helping our team to deal with the situation before it gets worse.”

According to Schneider, patrons didn’t keep their images on the system. However, this technology requires scanning the faces of all customers entering the store to match the database of banned customers.

The technology has already been temporarily turned off at the Bunnings Warehouse as the company moved to a new system.

A Kmart spokesperson has also confirmed that he has stopped using this technology.

“Our investigation into OAIC has begun, and we have temporarily suspended the use of this technology in a small number of trial stores,” said a spokesman.

Kmart believes that the use of technology to “prevent criminal activity such as refund fraud” is appropriate and subject to strict control.

Kate Bower, a proponent of Choice’s consumer data, welcomed the decision, but said technology should be shut down forever.

“The choice is eagerly awaiting the Information Commissioner’s decision on whether Kmart and Bunnings have violated privacy laws in the use of facial recognition technology. This will lead to the use of controversial facial recognition technology in Australia. It will be a breakthrough decision. “

That’s because 17 retail chains told Choice this week that their stores aren’t using or plan to implement this technology. These retailers include Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, Target, Big W, Meyer, David Jones, Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Vintage Cellars, Liquorland, Rebel, and Officeworks.

The Good Guys had previously suspended the use of technology after a preliminary inquiry from OAIC, at the time, “The Good Guys take the confidentiality of personal information very seriously and everything to which the trial applies. I’m confident that it complies with the law. “