Rite Aid deployed facial recognition in hundreds of stores, report finds

A masked woman pulls a cart on an urban street corner.

Enlarge / A woman wearing a mask walks past a Rite-Aid store in Portland, Oregon, in May 2020. (credit: hapabapa | Getty Images)

Pharmacy chain Rite Aid deployed facial recognition technology in hundreds of store locations in the nation’s largest cities, particularly in low-income neighborhoods predominantly home to people of color, a new report has found.

Reuters today published an in-depth report citing internal documents, interviews with more than 40 sources familiar with the systems, and first-hand observation of cameras in stores, which found the technology was deployed in at least 200 stores, including 75 identified in New York and Los Angeles.

Whenever a customer entered a store that uses the tech, their image was logged in a database. On return visits, the software added new images to existing customer profiles. It then ran those images against a list of “people Rite Aid previously observed engaging in potential criminal activity.” When the software made a match, store security employees received a smartphone push notification.

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