March 27, 2024

Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Commend FTC’s Enforcement Against Rite Aid’s Discriminatory Use of Facial Recognition Technology

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced they joined 10 of their colleagues in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission applauding its recent enforcement against Rite Aid for its use of discriminatory and invasive facial recognition technology.

In the Rite Aid settlement, the FTC found the company’s use of facial recognition systems in its pharmacies led to thousands of false identifications, resulting in individuals being wrongfully searched, accused of shoplifting, and even kicked out of Rite Aid stores – a clear violation of their civil rights.  

In the letter to Chair Lina Khan, the senators wrote, “The Rite Aid complaint and settlement illustrate the unique threats that facial recognition and other biometric identification systems pose for Black communities, communities of color, and low-income individuals. As locations in every sector — from pharmacies to amusement parks to sports stadiums — increasingly employ facial recognition systems, the FTC has a responsibility to use every available tool to protect consumers and prevent discriminatory surveillance. As facial recognition technology proliferates across industries, we encourage the FTC to continue its recent robust enforcement using the full range of its regulatory authority.”  

This letter was led by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and signed by Wyden and Merkley alongside Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.). 

A copy of the letter can be found here