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Sydney — Australia’s second-biggest appliances chain says it is pausing a trial of facial recognition technology in stores after a consumer group referred it to the privacy regulator for possible enforcement action.

Use of the technology by The Good Guys, owned by JB Hi-Fi , was “unreasonably intrusive” and potentially in breach of privacy laws, the group, Choice, told the Australian information commissioner.

“The Good Guys will pause the trial of the upgraded security system with the optional facial recognition technology being conducted in two of its Melbourne stores,” a spokesperson for JB Hi-Fi said.

The company took confidentiality of personal information seriously and remains confident it complied with relevant laws, but decided “to pause the trial at this time pending any clarification regarding the use of this technology”, it said.

The Good Guys was named in a complaint alongside Bunnings, Australia’s biggest home improvement chains.

A day earlier, when Choice made its complaint, Bunnings said it only used the technology for security after an increase in the number of “challenging interactions” faced by its team and accused Choice of an “inaccurate characterisation”.

The Good Guys said it also used the technology only to review incidents of theft and ensure the safety and wellbeing of customers and its teams.

Last year the regulator ordered the Australian 7-Eleven chain to destroy “faceprints” collected at 700 convenience stores on iPads set up to run customer surveys. It also ordered US software developer Clearview AI, which collects images from social media websites to build profiles of individuals, to destroy data and stop the practice in Australia.



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