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Anti-facial recognition campaign gains artist support

A campaign opposing the use of facial recognition technology at live events is seeking the "mobilisation" of artists, promoters and fans

By Anna Grace on 11 Sep 2019

Artists oppose use of facial recognition technology at concerts

Tom Morello is among artists to oppose the technology


image © Tom Morello

A coalition of musicians including Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and band Speedy Ortiz have joined a campaign to oppose the use of facial recognition technology at live music events.

Biometric identification technology has been used at live events over the past few years, in a bid to speed up entry into shows and detect troublemakers.

Digital rights group Fight for the Future is leading the charge against the technology, which it deems inaccurate, invasive, discriminative and dangerous.

On Monday (9 September) the group launched a campaign to mobilise “artists, fans and promoters to speak out against the use of facial recognition technology at live music events.”

“Music fans should feel safe and respected at festivals and shows, not subjected to invasive biometric surveillance,” writes Fight for the Future, warning that the use of the technology at live events could lead to deportation, arrest for minor offences, misidentification and permanent data storage.

“Music fans should feel safe and respected at festivals and shows, not subjected to invasive biometric surveillance”

The group argues that there is “no evidence” that the technology will keep fans safe, adding that “mass surveillance is largely ineffective at preventing violent crimes.”

Artists including singer Amanda Palmer, hip-hop duo Atmosphere, rock band Downtown Boy and Slovenian producer Gramatik have all voiced their support for the campaign, as well as the team behind Summer Meltdown, an AEG-promoted festival.

However many, including event security platform Vertus Fusion, state the technology could be integral for enhancing the safety of fans.

A hidden facial recognition camera was used to detect stalkers at Taylor Swift shows in 2018 and the technology was used to screen guests at this year’s Brit Awards. Live Nation-backed biometrics company Blink Identity recently began to roll out its facial recognition system in a pilot programme for Manchester City football club.

The role that facial recognition technology plays in event security will be discussed at the Event Safety and Security Summit (E3S), which takes place on 8 October at the Congress Centre, London.

 


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