Convenience store chain 7-Eleven is debuting facial recognition across all 700 Australian locations, supposedly for no other purpose than to avoid customers “gaming” their feedback system. Aussies aren’t buying it – literally.

A 7-Eleven spokesperson told Australian outlet iTnews that the ominous signs popping up in store windows over the past few weeks – “Site is under constant video surveillance. By entering the store you consent to facial recognition cameras capturing and storing your image” – refer solely to the use of the chain’s new Rate It customer feedback tablets.

Footage captured by the system is “not used for any other purpose,” the chain claimed on Monday, adding that “if a customer doesn’t use the feedback tablet, their image won’t be recorded.” Images are stored for seven days and permanently destroyed afterwards, and 7-Eleven “does not have access to this encrypted data,” the company stated.

Explaining that the “use of facial recognition within the Rate It tablet is to ensure that the feedback is accurate and valid,” the spokesman stressed it was necessary to avoid “the system being ‘gamed.’

The explanation has raised some eyebrows Down Under, with many on social media questioning the need for such an elaborate system – as if customers attempting to “game” a customer feedback mechanism was such a dire problem that it required the rollout of “another panopticon.” 

Oh you don’t want your customer feedback survey being “gamed”. Seems a totally valid reason to use facial recognition technology!!! Someone in the 7-11 head office has a brother in law with a tech startup that needs a reason to exist, for sure.

I’m struggling to understand how facial recognition data capture will “ensure that the feedback is accurate and valid” or prevent gaming the systemAlso unclear how marginal improvements in store performance will add a lot to the bottom lineSo what is the payoff?

Many wondered at the priorities of the chain, recalling the recent wage theft scandal in which 7-Eleven was found to be systematically underpaying its workers, doctoring payroll records, and threatening foreign employees who complained with deportation.

…shouldn’t they be focusing on repaying employees they robbed?!

“Trust us with your face data,” says company that systematically stole the wages of its staff.

Others complained the chain did not include any mention of the new surveillance system in its privacy policy, and that merely putting a sign in the window was “too late” for customers who’d already used the gas station pumps. 

Normally this would be set out in an APP 5 notice, but I’ve never seen such a thing in a 7 eleven store. Checked their privacy policy – no mention of CCTV monitoring of customers or facial recognition.

Because this privacy policy only refers to biometric information from employees, franchisees, and family members of franchisees. Not the general public.

A few suggested a boycott.

7-Eleven to deploy facial recognition technology in all in stores in Australia as part of a customer feedback capture mechanism & says the technology is “not used for any other purpose”CUSTOMER FEEDBACK CAPTURE?Here’s my feedback @7ElevenAus#Boycott7ElevenAUS#Auspol

More reason not to stop and shop at 7-Eleven Australia stores

Australian media have reported an uptick in facial recognition systems in “all states and territories,” with Queensland and Western Australia confirmed to be using real-time facial recognition on CCTV cameras and New South Wales admitting to ABC that they are “exploring” using the tech. Facial recognition-based surveillance systems are also being rolled out in schools. An attempt to create a federal facial recognition database last year was spiked because of privacy and human rights concerns, but the idea remains, and concepts that run afoul of restrictions on government intrusion have a nasty way of being implemented via the private sector. 

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