Australia investigates retailers for collecting facial prints

Australia investigates retailers for collecting facial prints

Two retail giants are under investigation in Australia. Bunnings Hardware Co. and Kmart department stores have been under the crosshairs of the country’s privacy watchdog for using facial recognition technology.

Stores collect so-called “facial prints” from customers in some places. To the likes of a consumer advocacy group, the technology is unethical and offensive. Moreover, it is being used without proper consent or knowledge of regular people.

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Bunnings and Kmart both defend themselves by claiming that the use of facial recognition is a security and anti-theft measure. For now, the investigation will have to determine whether the two retailers violated any privacy laws with the technology.

retail stores in Australia, according to BBC, may collect biometric information from customers only when it is “reasonably necessary” to operate. Australian Information Commissioner Angeline Falk said there was still a need for “explicit consent” from consumers.

“While preventing theft and creating a secure environment are important goals, the use of high-end impact technologies in stores carries significant privacy risks. Retailers must be able to demonstrate that this is a proportionate response,” the commissioner said in June. In said, when the use of facial recognition was unveiled.

Retail chain Kmart defended itself by claiming that it uses technology for security. Image: Daria Niepot/Shutterstock

Such has been the case at convenience store chain 7-Eleven, in addition to Kmart and Bunnings. In 2021, establishments were discovered to be interfering with customers’ privacy by collecting facial prints. Another retailer, The Good Guys, is also being investigated.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has already called for a ban on the technology unless the country has specific laws regulating its use. “Using facial recognition technology like Kmart, Bunnings or The Good Guys is like collecting your fingerprints or DNA every time you shop,” said Kate Bower of Choice.

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via: BBC

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