7-Eleven Australia is deploying facial recognition technology to all 700 stores nationwide as part of a customer feedback capture mechanism, but says the technology is “not used for any other purpose”.
Customers of the Australian arm of the convenience chain have reported the appearance of vague signs being placed in the windows of stores over the past few weeks, both to iTnews and on Twitter.
"Site is under constant video surveillance. By entering the store you consent to facial recognition cameras capturing and storing your image,” the sign reads.
A spokesperson for 7-Eleven Australia told iTnews that the technology is tied to a deployment of Rate It, a customer experience (CX) measurement tool that runs on a tablet device in-store.
7-Eleven uses different facial recognition technology in other markets such as Thailand, but this is not being used in Australia.
The Australian spokesperson said that the “use of facial recognition within the Rate It tablet is to ensure that the feedback is accurate and valid, and given customer feedback is so important to us we don’t want the system being ‘gamed’.”
“The technology is not used for any other purpose,” the spokesperson said.
“If a customer doesn’t use the feedback tablet, their image won’t be recorded. The camera is only activated upon commencement of an interaction and is dormant at all other times.
“The data captured by the tablet is a 'biometric blurring' and only an encrypted algorithmic representation of the image is recorded.
"This encrypted algorithmic representation is stored by Rate It for seven days for the validation to occur, after which they are permanently destroyed.
“7-Eleven does not have access to this encrypted data.”
The 7-Eleven Australia spokesperson said the general warning at the store entry was worded conservatively on purpose.
“Just as with CCTV within our stores and throughout the retail sector, we alert customers to this fact prior to entering a store so they understand their image may be recorded once they enter the store,” the spokesperson said.
7-Eleven said Rate It would replace a manual customer feedback form in-store.
“Responding to ever changing needs of the convenience customer is at the heart of 7-Eleven’s business. A key to achieving this is to get customer feedback fast, and being able to act on it fast,” the spokesperson said.
“We are replacing the outdated practice of having people with a clipboard and pencil with a tablet so customers can give us immediate feedback on their experience in real time and allow us to act on our learnings swiftly at a store level.”