Using facial recognition technology, Rite Aid misidentified people deemed “likely to engage” in shoplifting, particularly targeting women, Black people, Latino people and Asian people, the Guardian reports. In a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Rite Aid is forbidden from deploying facial recognition technology in its stores for five years. The FTC said in a court complaint that Rite Aid used facial recognition technology in hundreds of stores from October 2012 to July 2020 to identify shoppers, using low-quality images captured through Rite Aid’s CCTV cameras, facial recognition cameras or on the mobile phones of employees. Security workers were trained to “push for as many enrollments as possible” and the company “enrolled at least tens of thousands of individuals in its database.”
Rite Aid then failed to test the technology's accuracy before using it, leading to “numerous instances” in which the technology incorrectly identified someone who entered the store and sent alerts to Rite Aid employees, who would then put those customers under increased surveillance, ban them from making purchases or accuse them of previously committing crimes in front of friends, family and other customers.