Woolworths denies using AI and facial recognition despite leak claiming otherwise

woolies scam woolworths

A leaked Woolworths employee training module slide claims that it is using “artificial intelligence and facial mapping” in its stores — but the company denies it is using the technology.

A graphic featuring a copyright disclaimer “Woolworths 2020” featuring the various methods the company uses to combat theft has been posted on Reddit by an anonymous user with the title “It’s not just Bunnings that is using facial recognition. This is from a Woolies training module from 2020″.

At the bottom of the slide, a box titled “Did You Know?” boasts about the company’s use of technology to catch offenders: “Our high standard CCTV is already resulting in offenders being arrested by police. We are using technology like artificial intelligence and facial mapping to identify offenders!”

Woolworths confirmed that the slide was real, but denied it is using either artificial intelligence or facial recognition to prevent theft.

“We don’t use any form of facial recognition technology in-store and we’ll be updating the wording in the module to make this clearer,” it said in response to Crikey questions. “The point in the module is a reference to us providing CCTV upon request to police to assist with any investigations.”

While Woolworths may not use these technologies, the company does work with police — including by providing CCTV footage — who may use tools such as facial recognition.

Earlier this month, consumer group CHOICE released a report finding that three of Australia’s top 25 retailers are using facial recognition technology, prompting calls for a ban on the technology until Australia places regulatory framework around its use.

CHOICE has filed a complaint with the Office of the Information Commissioner accusing the three companies — the Good Guys, Kmart and Bunnings — for using facial recognition in a way that is “unreasonable intrusive”, ITNews reported.

This article was first published by Crikey.


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