Australian Retailers Pause Plans for Facial Recognition Tech

Australia’s privacy watchdog, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), has launched an investigation into Kmart and Bunnings’ personal information handling practices following a complaint from Australian consumer group CHOICE.

Now, the retailers have announced they’ve paused use of facial recognition technology.

In response to calls from CHOICE, 17 retailers—including Woolworths, Coles, and Aldi—have promised they are not and have no plans to use facial recognition in their stores.

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US retailers and those around the globe have faced similar resistance against facial recognition technologies in stores. After pressure from multiple groups, Walmart, Kroger, Home Depot, Target, and other US stores all said they would not use facial recognition, while Albertson’s, Macy’s, and Apple Stores do use the technologies.

Amid a surge in shoplifting, organized retail crime, in-store violence, and other retail crimes, facial recognition technologies have been touted for their usefulness in deterring crimes, linking images to personal information.

Many consumers, however, have expressed strong opinions against the technologies, citing privacy concerns.

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