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Australian retail giants focused in facial recognition tech grievance

By Byron Kaye SYDNEY (Reuters) -A significant shopper group has referred three of Australia’s greatest...

By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) -A significant shopper group has referred three of Australia’s greatest retail chains to the privateness regulator, saying they use “unreasonably intrusive” facial recognition know-how on prospects and recommending enforcement motion.

CHOICE, in a grievance to the Workplace of the Australian Data Commissioner (OAIC) printed on Monday, mentioned use of the know-how at JB Hello-Fi Ltd’s home equipment chain The Good Guys in addition to {hardware} chain Bunnings and the Australian arm of big-box retailer Kmart – each owned by Wesfarmers Ltd – was unwarranted.

The OAIC mentioned it was reviewing the grievance. JB Hello-Fi was not obtainable for remark. Wesfarmers referred Reuters to its two subsidiaries, which weren’t obtainable for remark. The retailers beforehand instructed media they used the know-how for safety functions.

An OAIC investigation can be Australia’s greatest into facial recognition know-how as shopper teams worldwide warn of incursions on privateness and potential for racial profiling. The retailers within the CHOICE grievance function about 800 shops, reserving A$25 billion ($17 billion) in gross sales final 12 months.

CHOICE coverage adviser Amy Pereira mentioned facial recognition know-how introduced “vital threat to people” together with “invasion of privateness, misidentification, discrimination, profiling and exclusion, in addition to vulnerability to cybercrime by way of knowledge breaches and identification theft”.

“CHOICE urges you as Commissioner to analyze this matter additional and take into account taking enforcement motion in opposition to Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys for failure to satisfy their obligations beneath the (Privateness) Act,” Pereira mentioned within the grievance.

CHOICE routinely contributes to authorities inquiries involving shopper points, and on its web site mentioned it was instrumental in lots of regulatory modifications similar to an prolonged ban on dangerous monetary merchandise.

In 2021, it ordered the Australian 7-Eleven chain to destroy “faceprints” collected at 700 comfort shops on iPads set as much as run buyer surveys. It additionally ordered U.S. software program developer Clearview AI, which collects pictures from social media web sites to construct profiles of people, to destroy knowledge and cease the observe in Australia.

CHOICE mentioned the three companies in its grievance collected private and delicate data with out consent and with out clearly disclosing the observe in a coverage.

Some shops have indicators alerting customers to the know-how, however “prospects’ silence can’t be taken as consent” and plenty of had no various place to make their purchases, CHOICE mentioned.

($1 = 1.4465 Australian {dollars})

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Modifying by Christopher Cushing)