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Australian appliance retailer hit with complaints over invasive facial recognition tech

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The Good Guys, Australia’s second-largest home appliance chain, paused the trial of a facial recognition system it had rolled out in some of its stores after a consumer group filed a complaint with the federal privacy regulator, according to a report by Reuters.

On June 27, consumer group CHOICE filed a complaint with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) about the use of an intrusive facial recognition system by The Good Guys.

“Use of the technology by The Good Guys, owned by JB Hi-Fi Ltd, and two other retail chains was ‘unreasonably intrusive’ and potentially in breach of privacy laws,” CHOICE wrote in the complaint obtained by Reuters.

On June 28, The Good Guys published a press release saying that it had temporarily paused the trial of the upgraded security system with the optional facial recognition technology being conducted in two of its Melbourne stores” until the conclusion of the OAIC investigation.

“The technology was solely used to review incidents of theft, and for the purposes of customer and team member safety and wellbeing,” the press release continued.

The home appliance chain insisted that it takes “the confidentiality of personal information extremely seriously and remains confident that the trial complied with all applicable laws.”

Last October, 7-Eleven Australia, headquartered in the US, was forced to remove facial recognition technology rolled out in 700 of its stores after the OAIC concluded that it was a violation of customers’ privacy. The convenience store chain was also ordered to destroy the 3.2 million “faceprints” it had collected “without consent” over 10 months.

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