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FTC bans Rite Aid from using facial recognition

Big news: The FCT banned Rite Aid from using facial recognition for five years because of discrimination and lack of risk management.



➤Why this is important


👉What Rite Aid is accused of is revolting


👉AI regulation is already here


People sometimes think that there won’t be AI regulation until the EU AI Act is passed. Not the case! AI regulation includes the enforcement of general laws on AI, and this is a great example. 


👉Risk management takes center stage


The FTC specifically addressed Rite Aid’s failure to mitigate the risk. It is great to see law enforcement not only expecting but demanding AI risk management.  



➤What Rite Aid did:


😠RiteAid, a huge US drugstore chain, used facial recognition in its stores to detect shoplifters and other problematic shoppers (no notification given, of course)


😠They created a database of “people of interest,” whom Rite Aid believed engaged or tried to engage in criminal activity in one of the stores. 


😠The database included photos from Rite Aid security cameras and employee phone cameras, along with the suspect's names and criminal records. 


😠The system surveilled people in their stores for matches. When a “match” was found, employees would follow them around the store, search them, publicly accuse them, kick them out of the stores, and/or call the police on them. Sometimes in front of the person’s family.


😠According to the FTC investigation, thousands were falsely accused, with a disproportionate impact on people of color.


😠The FTC investigation also found that Rite Aid failed to conduct risk mitigation activities.



➤The FTC sued Rite Aid. The settlement includes:


💪Rite Aid is banned from using facial recognition for five years.

💪Rite Aid must destroy the photos and algorithms

💪Rite Aid must delete all biometric data it collects within five years

💪 Rite Aid must notify consumers from now on when their biometric data is used in connection with surveillance and when used to act against them



➤ To finish on a positive note, it is wonderful to see US federal agencies taking action about AI harms!

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