Major Retailers Using Facial Recognition Technology In Stores

Following article from John Stapleton

Three more major companies are being referred to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner over their use of facial recognition technology in stores.

Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group has raised serious concerns about major retailers using facial recognition technology to record customer faceprints.

This is the latest revelation for the industry.

CHOICE is referring Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to investigate potential breaches of the Privacy Act over their use of the technology.

The organisation probed 25 of “Australia’s most-trusted retailers”, and found Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys were “capturing the biometric data of their customers“.

CHOICE consumer data advocate, Kate Bower, said the use of facial recognition by The Good Guys, Kmart and Bunnings was “completely inappropriate and unnecessary”.

However, the stores disagree, citing the need for’ protection against theft’ in their stores.

Bunnings’ chief operating officer Simon McDowell has said Bunnings “respectfully disagrees with CHOICE”, with the technology being one of several measures used to keep staff and customers safe.

“Our use is solely for the purpose of preventing threatening situations and theft, which is consistent with the Privacy Act,” he said.

CHOICE also surveyed more than 1,000 customers between March and April this year.

“To make matters worse, we found 76 per cent of Australians aren’t aware that retailers are capturing their unique facial features in this way,” she said. 

University of Technology Sydney professor Edward Santow, who is a former Australian Human Rights Commissioner, has said facial recognition technology raises serious questions about privacy.

“Even if that technology was perfectly accurate, and it’s not, but even if it were, it still takes us into the realm of mass surveillance.”

Once again, the stores in question disagree, advising of their use of facial recognition in the privacy policy on their websites, as well as public notices that grant consent.

Kmart, for example, displays small signs at the entrance of stores where the technology is in use:

Once again, the biometric dystopia creeps over the day-to-day operations of Australian retail.

During the pandemic period, it was revealed stores such as Woolworths had now incorporated biometric capabilities into self-service checkouts across the country.

Hidden in ‘privacy policies’ and ‘agreements’ when entering the store, retail is able to get away with monitoring customers, as well as the bar and club industry that has also had a makeover in recent years.

Where is this data going? Who is responsible for the programs?

A few questions that are not told to the ‘consenting’ customer.

Most importantly, this type of advanced technology is not just exclusively found in retail stores.

It has engulfed many elements of Australian society.


A multitude of systems have been developed across a variety of industries and avenues of Australian society to monitor, analyse, judge and identify individuals for ‘safety and security’ reasons.

In Australia, sweeping legislative changes and broad anti-terror laws introduced since 9/11 have sanctioned the rise of unaccounted surveillance methods, including the development of vast biometric capabilities for government and the private sector.

Facial scans taken for passports, driver’s licences or nightclub entry are stored in police and spy agency databases, while new CCTV and smart technology is being developed to monitor all activities.

This includes a significant increase in the use of biometric systems in Australia, including in CBD districtsairportsschoolspublic transportsupermarkets and more.

Coupled with the Australian government’s “Smart Cities Plan”, which sets out the government’s vision for ‘productive and liveable cities’ that ‘encourage innovation and growth’.

By the end of the decade, networks with highly sophisticated biometric capabilities will connect to a smart city grid where a national facial recognition databases will function as the primary surveillance mechanism.

All just to ‘stop the bad guys’, of course..

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  1. May I suggest everyone does some research about facial recognition. If you think covering your face with a mask and covering your eyes with sunglasses is going to help you, think again.

    Did you know that the ear is used to recognise people because it only ever changes in your whole entire life twice. Or that your jawline, wrinkles and facial expressions are captured and analysed in order to recognise you.

    What’s funny is I sent an email to bunnings about 18 months ago asking if they used this technology they said no. I emailed emailed 6 months ago they still said no. I am just about to email them again and let’s see what they say this time !!!!

    1. While Patricia was talking tongue in cheek, what you are saying is 100% correct. Over 90% of Australians are totally unaware that we have the same surveillance technology as China and we have the sellout politicians ready to put it in place.

      In China if someone tries to trick the equipment they lose social points and their credit card won’t allow them to buy food.

      It is up to us whether we allow it to happen. In the movie ” Dances with wolves” the head warrior asked D with W “These soldiers can’t ride or shoot properly and they are all cowards ,so how are they going to take over anything ??”
      The answer proved to be that there was just so many of them.

      We should be in the opposite position. There are about 2,000 in the WEF and if you saw Real Rushkin and Avi Yemani of Rebel News in Davos interviewing them they would throw a tantrum and run away crying if Avi asked a difficult question.

      There are 8 billion of us who should be dead against their agenda . All we need is enough to wake up and tell them to take their technology and F… off.

  2. Just handed Bunnings a letter of demand, requiring all my info they have stored to be destroyed. Time to counter these Hitler brown shitrs before its too late.
    General Manager Bunnings Group Limited
    Manager Bunnings Smithfield Qld
    The audacity of a corporation to infringe upon basic human rights by utilising FACIAL RECOGNITION technology is of great concern in a free country. The excuse of “security issues” does not override my rights.
    Let me remind you, as I am certain this corporation is fully aware of its legal limitations, that a breach of the Australian Privacy act, 1988 can incur harsh penalties for both PERSONS and CORPORATIONS.
    We hereby rescind any prior agreement for Bunnings Group Limited and Bunnings Smithfield Qld to collect, store or transfer any information in relation to myself or my wife.
    This is a letter of demand requiring Bunnings Group Limited and Bunnings Smithfield Qld to delete any and all information this corporation has retained concerning my wife and I. If confirmation of the destruction of all information regarding my wife and I has not been received within SEVEN days, legal action will be initiated.