Woolworths checkout cameras spark privacy concerns

Supermarket giant says surveillance cameras at self-serve checkouts are to help customers make purchases but not everyone is convinced

Woolworths checkout cameras spark privacy concerns
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Revelations that Woolworths supermarkets are filming customers as they scan their groceries has caused an uproar among shoppers.

Customers were threatening to boycott the supermarket chain this week when it was revealed overhead surveillance cameras had been installed above self-serve scanners.

Shoppers complained that the cameras were an invasion of privacy and that they didn’t like being treated like a thief.

“You wanna treat me like a f***ing thief then YOU scan my s***,” one customer wrote on social media. Others vowed they would not go back to the store.

A Woolworths spokesperson said the cameras were to find ways to help customers be more accurate in their scanning, and to improve speed for customers through the checkout.

"While most customers do the right thing at our self-serve checkouts, we're all busy and mistakes can easily happen," the spokesperson said.

Woolworths said surveillance cameras were used internationally to “make the selfserve scanning process more accurate”.

The Australian Retailers Association claims fake swiping at self-serve checkouts costs Australian shops up to $9 billion a year.

They said shoppers don’t feel guilty fake swiping because they stealing from a “robot” didn’t feel like stealing. Woolworths' new technology detects when an item has not been scanned and sets off a red light at the checkout.

It then replays a video of the issue on the checkout screen and asks you to correct the mistake.

The surveillance footage, which blurs faces and the payment keypad, is kept by the retailer in case police want to see it later.

The trial, currently operating in a few stores across Sydney, will be expanded to stores across NSW, Victoria, and Queensland, with other states and territories to follow.

Woolworths has 1,086 stores across Australia.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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