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HometechnologyUS banned this pharmacy chain from using AI facial recognition. Here's why

US banned this pharmacy chain from using AI facial recognition. Here’s why

Rite Aid was accused by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of harming its consumers through the technology.

The United States has banned bankrupt pharmacy chain Rite Aid from using artificial intelligence-based facial recognition technology for surveillance purposes for five years, Reuters reported.

Rite Aid was accused by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of harming its consumers through the technology.

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According to Reuters, Rite Aid deployed artificial intelligence-based facial recognition technology from 2012 to 2020 in order to identify shoplifters.

However, the company falsely flagged some consumers as matching someone who had previously been identified as a shoplifter.

“Rite Aid’s reckless use of facial surveillance systems left its customers facing humiliation and other harms,” Samuel Levine, director of consumer harms at the Federal Trade Commission was quoted as saying by AFP.

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In a statement, Rite Aid said the agreement with the FTC is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court overseeing its insolvency case.

“The allegations relate to a facial recognition technology pilot program the company deployed in a limited number of stores,” the company said. “Rite Aid stopped using the technology in this small group of stores more than three years ago, before the FTC’s investigation regarding the Company’s use of the technology began.”

The complaint against Rite Aid by US FTC and the subsequent ban was the result of a Reuters investigation from 2020 into the company’s facial recognition program.

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Reuters found Rite Aid quietly added facial recognition systems to hundreds of stores in the United States, and that in New York and Los Angeles, it deployed the technology in largely lower-income, non-white neighbourhoods.

After Reuters sent its findings to Rite Aid in July 2020, the company said that it had stopped using its facial recognition software.

According to AFP, the case touches upon one of the main concerns about the proliferation of artificial intelligence, and facial recognition in particular, which is deemed to potentially misidentify or discriminate against individuals, especially non-whites and women.

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