Rite Aid facial recognition

Released: 2013

Can you improve this page?
Share your insights with us

For years, US drugstore chain Rite Aid has quietly been using facial recognition in hundreds of stores in mostly lower-income, non-white neighbourhoods across the US, according to a Reuters investigation, prompting a civil and political backlash.

RiteAid defended its policy by arguing that the technology was only being used in a 'data-driven' manner to detect and deter crime and violence, and that the cameras were appropriately flagged to customers. 

But the chain swiftly shut down its facial recognition system after the Reuters investigation, claiming its 'decision was in part based on a larger industry conversation.'

The investigation also indicated 'serious drawbacks' with RiteAid's first facial recognition partner, FaceFirst, whose technology several security professionals described as inaccurate, especially with regard to Blacks and other races.

In March 2018, the ACLU had questioned whether American retail chains were using face recognition without telling their customers. RiteAid, like nineteen other chains, refused to answer.

The second system used by RiteAid, DeepCam LLC, was closely connected to Chinese company Shenzhen Shenmu Information Technology, which in turn had been invested in by a strategic fund set up by the Chinese government.

Operator: RiteAid
Developer: FaceFirst; DeepCam; Shenzhen Shenmu

Country: USA

Sector: Retail

Purpose: Reduce crime, violence

Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity, income; Privacy

Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: System
Published: March 2023