Artists and venues join growing call to ban facial recognition at shows

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Petition to ban facial recognition in concert halls

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Photo credit: Hannah Rodrigo

Over 100 artists and 25 venues have pledged to ban facial recognition at their shows and concerts.

The news comes after venue Madison Square Garden used facial recognition technology to identify attorneys working for law firms currently litigating against the company and banned those attorneys from attending events. Now artists are banding together and saying invasive biometric scanning to ban people is unsafe.

“Artists, venues and fans – you have choices when it comes to the technology used at live events. Now promise to help us fight it,” the organization said asks. Artists currently on board include Tom Morello, Zack De La Rocha, Boots Riley, Speedy Ortiz and many more.

So what’s so bad about facial recognition on live shows?

The coalition says it is increasing discrimination against minorities. It allows shops, corporations, and law enforcement agencies to track and target individuals without oversight or accountability. Police have used the technology to identify people involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. “James Dolan, owner of Madison Square Garden, has used facial recognition to discriminate and penalize event-goers – who says he doesn’t use the technology against his own employees?” the coalition posits.

Once biometric information is captured and stored in a database, it becomes an easy target for abuse. Successful attacks have stolen millions of data points from Americans around the world, and databases powered by facial recognition technologies are one of the most lucrative targets for hackers.

Most states don’t have laws requiring venues to disclose whether they use facial recognition. Madison Square Garden Entertainment has elected to disclose use of technology while on its premises, including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theater, as required by New York law. Venues in states that do not have such laws are not required to disclose the use of facial recognition technology.

Ticketmaster has partnered with facial recognition company Wicket to begin using biometrics in stadiums and venues. Meanwhile, AEG Presents has tried to introduce biometrics Palm scanning as a ticket option in Colorado.