Bunnings defends controversial use of facial recognition technology

Store claims 'creepy' tech is key to staff safety

Bunnings defends controversial use of facial recognition technology
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Bunnings has lashed out at claims its controversial facial recognition technology used in stores is invasive, claiming its use in stores is for staff safety reasons.

The tech used by the hardware giant and retailer Kmart has drawn criticism with customers and privacy groups concerns over the 'creepy' technology.

The news comes as Bunnings raised some eyebrows in its likely choice of contracting a security group for its Victorian stores that was previously investigated by The Fairwork Ombudsman for allegedly underpaying migrant workers who couldn't speak English properly.

Bunnings insists the technology has been mischaracterised, defending its use as a way to protect its staff from 'violent customers' and to prevent organised crime.

The chain has temporarily turned off the technology in stores ahead of a platform shift earlier this year, informing the privacy watchdog it will not be reverting to it at this stage.

The new surveilence technology remains controversial with supermarket giants Coles, Woolworths and Aldi named among 17 major retailers that say they have no plans to introduce the tech, consumer group CHOICE said.

The Daily Mail Australia reported:

The technology in Bunnings is used purely to protect staff from organised retail crime amid an uptick in aggressive and violent behaviour, managing director Mike Schneider said.

He points to shoppers who have spat at, punched, and pulled knives on team members, along with thieves.

Those individuals are banned from stores, and some have their image displayed in the retailer's system.

'If a particular Bunnings store has facial (recognition), and not all of our stores do, the camera will scan your face,' Mr Schneider said.

'It will map it back to the database, and if it doesn't recognise it, no data is held.'

Other retailers with no pending plans to use facial recognition technology include: Big W, Target, David Jones, Myer, Officeworks, Rebel, Macpac, BCF, Supercheap Auto, Dan Murphy's, BWS, Liquorland, First Choice and Vintage Cellars. 


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  • By Avi Yemini

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