Rite Aid banned from using facial recognition technology for falsely reporting criminals

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  • The FTC has banned Rite Aid from using facial recognition technology in its stores for five years.
  • The software was intended to alert staff when a criminal suspect entered a Rite Aid store.
  • But that generated thousands of false matches, according to the FTC.

The Federal Trade Commission has banned Rite Aid from using facial recognition technology in its stores for five years, saying it falsely flagged some people as criminal suspects.

According to the FTC, from 2012 to 2020, Rite Aid opened stores in hundreds of retail stores primarily in and around large cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Seattle. It said it used recognition technology to issue a warning to employees. Potential criminals have invaded.these people

The system posted an individual’s photo and sent email and phone alerts to store employees indicating that the photo matched someone listed on Rite Aid’s Watch lsit. According to the FTC, these warnings can sometimes lead staff to ban customers from the store, accuse customers of past criminal behavior in front of others, search their homes, or call the police. It is said that

However, the software produced many false matches, the FTC said. According to the FTC, from December 2019 to July 2020, Rite Aid employees logged thousands of false positive match alerts.

For example, Rite Aid’s facial recognition technology generated more than 900 match alerts for a single person in its database at more than 130 stores in multiple states in just five days.

“In multiple instances, Rite Aid employees took other actions, including asking consumers to leave the store,” the FTC said.

According to the commission, an 11-year-old girl was also stopped and searched due to a discrepancy.

According to the FTC, Black, Asian, Latino, and female consumers are most likely to be harmed by Rite Aid’s facial recognition software.

Rite Aid’s database of tens of thousands of individuals includes people who Rite Aid believes have committed or attempted criminal activity at its stores, as well as those who law enforcement may want to alert the pharmacy chain to. An image of the person who gave the instructions was posted.

The FTC says many of the photos are of low quality and obtained through CCTV, facial recognition cameras, law enforcement, and media reports. The FTC said some of the photos were taken by employees on their cell phones and included photos of government IDs such as driver’s licenses.

Cameras in Rite Aid stores then capture a live image of the customer and compare it to a database. The software generated a confidence score based on how accurate it thought the match was, but these scores are typically determined by store employees tasked with deciding whether to take action against a customer. was not shared, the FTC said.

According to the FTC, Rite Aid obtained facial recognition technology from two third-party vendors but failed to inform consumers about how to use it.

The FTC said Rite Aid failed to assess the accuracy of the technology, implement image quality standards necessary for the technology to function accurately, and adequately train and supervise store employees responsible for operating the technology. .

Under the proposed settlement order, Rite Aid would be prohibited from using facial recognition technology in its stores for five years, any photos obtained through the use of the software would be deleted, and Rite Aid would be prohibited from using any biometric surveillance in its stores. clear notice will be provided.

“We are pleased to reach an agreement with the FTC and put this matter behind us,” Rite Aid said in a press release. “However, we fundamentally disagree with the facial recognition claims in the agency’s complaint.”

Rite Aid said it used facial recognition technology “in limited stores” and stopped using the software more than three years ago.

The company added that “the safety of our employees and customers is our top priority.” “As part of our agreement with the FTC, we will continue to strengthen and formalize our comprehensive information security program practices and policies.”

Rite Aid filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New Jersey in October.

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