Rite Aid facial recognition accuses innocent shoppers of theft

Occurred: December 2023

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Facial recognition technology used by US drug chain Rite Aid's accused innocent shoppers of theft, often in a racially discriminatory manner.

The retailer failed to impose reasonable precautions in its deployment of facial recognition in hundreds of stores from 2012 to 2020, resulting in thousands of false-positive matches with customers accused of shoplifting and other inappropriate behaviour, according to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The regulator also said Rite Aid's technology unfairly targeted Black, Hispanic and female customers, was mostly deployed in neighborhoods that were located in 'plurality non-White areas,' and that incidents 'disproportionately' impacting people of colour. Rite Aid’s actions 'subjected consumers to embarrassment, harassment, and other harm', according to the complaint

The FTC banned Rite Aid from using facial recognition for using facial recognition for five years, and imposed multiple security and privacy obligations on the retailer.


Operator: Rite Aid
Developer: FaceFirst; DeepCam
Country: USA
Sector: Retail
Purpose: Reduce crime, violence
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity, income; Privacy; Security
Transparency: Governance; Marketing