Rite Aid has been using facial recognition tech across hundreds of its stores

Polycount

Posts: 2,467   +549
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(Lack of) privacy: When you think about the use of facial recognition technology, you probably associate it with law enforcement, airport security, and machine learning. However, in certain portions of New York and Los Angeles (among other locations), drugstore chain Rite Aid has been taking advantage of the technology for its own purposes.


This information came to light through a recent investigation by Reuters. During the site's probe, investigative journalists found that a whopping 200 Rite Aid locations used facial recognition technology to detect potential criminals, such as robbers or shoplifters.

The cameras are not inconspicuous -- they are easily visible, and "easily recognizable," according to Reuters. Indeed, in several cases, Rite Aid security even demonstrated to the outlet's reporters how the technology works, and what it's used for.

In short, the cameras look for matches between customers entering the store and those "previously observed engaging in potential criminal activity." If a match is found, Reuters says an "alert" is sent to the smartphones of Rite Aid security personnel, at which point they can inspect the match and determine whether or not it's a false positive. If the match is accurate, the worker might ask the individual to leave if deemed necessary.

Reuters says that, of the 75 stores it visited, the overwhelming majority of the ones that had recognition tech deployed were located in poorer areas or areas with a higher concentration of people of color. According to the site, Rite Aids in "whiter" and richer neighborhoods were less likely to house the technology.

After reaching out to Rite Aid with its findings, the company claimed it had already stopped using its facial recognition software, and followed up by stating that the cameras had been shut off entirely. This decision was reportedly prompted by a "larger industry conversation" surrounding facial recognition and its potential privacy impact.

However, the timing of the shutdown suggests the move was a bit more reactive than the company lets on. Nonetheless, it's still a win for privacy proponents, though it remains to be seen whether Rite Aid will attempt to revive the practice down the line.

Image credit: Reuters

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sorten

Posts: 22   +28
TechSpot Elite
Maybe they could rig up an air gun in tandem with this setup to shoot tranquilizer darts at people who aren't wearing masks. Then it can text security personnel so they can drag those shoppers out into the alley.
 

Arbie

Posts: 69   +81
Maybe they could rig up an air gun in tandem with this setup to shoot tranquilizer darts at people who aren't wearing masks. Then it can text security personnel so they can drag those shoppers out into the alley.
Which they would deserve, for spreading the virus when they could have helped to stop it.
 
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yRaz

Posts: 3,337   +2,814
previously observed engaging in potential criminal activity
so they don't even have evidence that you have previously committed a crime? I will be switching using riteaid as my pharmacy.
 

abysal

Posts: 125   +46
So it’s almost like... there’s more crime... in low income areas... that demographically are populated with people of color.

It’s so logical that you would utilize anti-theft services in higher crime areas... but nope. Probably racism, or something.
Ha!!
 

Eldritch

Posts: 228   +268
So it’s almost like... there’s more crime... in low income areas... that demographically are populated with people of color.

It’s so logical that you would utilize anti-theft services in higher crime areas... but nope. Probably racism, or something.
You make a good point and we will all agree here, since it's a tech site and we love data.

But what about news, media and talk shows? They abhor data and will make everything a race issue whether justified or not. Riteaid knows it well and is trying to just nip this in the bud before their glasses start to break or their stores liberated of their goods.
That would be really ironic.
 
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Irata

Posts: 636   +836
TechSpot Elite
So it’s almost like... there’s more crime... in low income areas... that demographically are populated with people of color.

It’s so logical that you would utilize anti-theft services in higher crime areas... but nope. Probably racism, or something.
Funny thing is they visited 75 Rite Aid stores in Manhattan and in the Metro LA areas. About 34 stores had facial recognition if I decipher the chart correctly:

https://I.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2020/07/28/22/31303850-8569753-image-a-40_1595971212328.jpg

I'd bet that most poor white people live in rural areas.

In any case, to make a proper analysis, we'd need the number for poor households in an area, the amount of shoplifting done at each store and the area's ethnic composition (just white and non-white does not cut it).

Now, if this showed that facial recognition was used in low shoplifting minority neighborhoods but not in high shoplifting white neighborhoods one could argue racism. But that data is missing.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,018   +2,830
So it’s almost like... there’s more crime... in low income areas... that demographically are populated with people of color.

It’s so logical that you would utilize anti-theft services in higher crime areas... but nope. Probably racism, or something.

Please tell me how much money low income/ impoverished people steal.

Then tell me how much Bernie Madoff, Wells Fargo,Trump and the average politician steals.

Thanks.
 

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Hexic

Posts: 722   +700
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Please tell me how much money low income/ impoverished people steal.

Then tell me how much Bernie Madoff, Wells Fargo,Trump and the average politician steals.

Thanks.
Corporate greed (or theft as you’re alluding to) doesn’t justify theft on other accounts. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and corporate greed has nothing to do with this article.

Nice try though.
 
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p51d007

Posts: 2,440   +1,710
Back in the 20's, someone asked a bank robber, why he robbed banks.
He said, because that is where the money is.
Same thing with this. It's not the high income neighborhoods that have crime.
It's the inner city LOW income/no income areas that have crime, which is why
Rite-Aid put this into place.