June 23, 2024

The Federal Trade Commission has banned Rite Aid from using facial recognition for five years after the company harmed customers with it.

According to the FTC, Rite Aid did not have reasonable safeguards in place to protect customers when it deployed facial recognition in its stores. As a result, the agency says the pharmacy potentially harmed and humiliated its customers.

“Rite Aid’s reckless use of facial surveillance systems left its customers facing humiliation and other harms, and its order violations put consumers’ sensitive information at risk,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Today’s groundbreaking order makes clear that the Commission will be vigilant in protecting the public from unfair biometric surveillance and unfair data security practices.” 

As part of the FTC’s action, Rite Aid will be banned from using facial recognition for five years and must implement the necessary safeguards when it does eventually re-dploy the tech.

The proposed order will require Rite Aid to implement comprehensive safeguards to prevent these types of harm to consumers when deploying automated systems that use biometric information to track them or flag them as security risks. It also will require Rite Aid to discontinue using any such technology if it cannot control potential risks to consumers. To settle charges it violated a 2010 Commission data security order by failing to adequately oversee its service providers, Rite Aid will also be required to implement a robust information security program, which must be overseen by the company’s top executives.

The ban will go into effect once it is approved by the court overseeing Rite Aid’s bankruptcy.