Musicians want facial recognition tech banned


Welcome to the worlds of Enemy of the State, Minority Report and Total Recall. Author Philip K. Dick may have known what laid ahead for us as a society.

Facial recognition technology has been slowly growing in public and private sectors, from airports to department stores to actual advertising brands. It’s becoming especially popular with law enforcement and ICE.

Now, a coalition of musicians and activists are calling on Ticketmaster, and its owner Live Nation, to ban the invasive face-scanning at concert venues and music festivals.

According to a report from Digital Rights group Fight for the Future, the ticketing giant and other live music companies have begun investing in the controversial technology, and even smaller bars and venues have been experimenting with it.

If facial recognition technology is implemented, Fight For the Future explains, it coud pose a number of startling risks to privacy and safety that extend far beyond getting you into the show. One involves the limitations of the technology itself: People of color are disproportionately poorly identified by facial recognition software, which puts fans of color in danger of being misidentified and harassed by venue security or law enforcement.

Fans’ faces and names could end up in permanent government databases, meaning they could be identified as undocumented immigrants or and arrested for outstanding minor charges. Yet another hazardous outcome would be the ability to match faces with home addresses and financial information.

Though facial recognition technology isn’t yet in wide use, the arrest of a man wanted for “financial crimes” at a pop concert in China and the striking inaccuracy of such technologies present compelling reasons to make sure it never gets there, according to Paste Magazine.

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Headlining artists like Tom Morello, Amanda Palmer, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Thievery Corporation, Gramatik, Anti-Flag, Atmosphere, The Glitch Mob, Downtown Boys, Laura Stevenson, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem, and B Dolan have already supported the campaign on social media, and Washington’s Summer Meltdown Festival just became the first to commit to not using the technology.

“I don’t want Big Brother at my shows targeting fans for harassment, deportation, or arrest. That’s why I’m joining this campaign calling on @Ticketmaster and others not to use #facialrecognition at festivals and concerts,” Tom Morello, legendary guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and Prophets of Rage, tweeted in support of the campaign.

“Facial recognition surveillance is uniquely dangerous. It doesn’t keep fans or artists safe, it just subjects them to invasive, racially biased monitoring that will inevitably lead to fans getting harassed, falsely arrested, deported, or worse,“ said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, “We’re calling on all all artists to stick up for their fans’ basic rights and safety by speaking out against the use of Big Brother style biometric surveillance at live music events.”

The campaign is part of Fight for the Future’s broader campaign, which has been endorsed my more than 30 major grassroots civil rights organizations including Greenpeace, Color of Change, Daily Kos, United We Dream, Council on American Islamic Relations, MoveOn, and Free Press. The groups are calling for local, state, and federal lawmakers to ban law enforcement use of facial recognition.

SOURCE: Fight For the Future