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Artists protest against Amazon palm scanners

A slate of artists including Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) and Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) are protesting Amazon’s palm-recognition tech at music venues.

The technology, which connects a concertgoer’s palm to their ticketing account, was recently implemented at a number of US venues including the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater following a deal between Amazon and AEG Worldwide (owner of ticketing site AXS).

On a new website called Amazon Doesn’t Rock, a number of artists have signed an open letter calling on Red Rocks, AXS, and AEG Worldwide to “immediately cancel all contracts with Amazon for the invasive Amazon One palm scanning technology”.

Some 32 artists including DIIV, Deerhoof and Jeff Rosenstock have signed the letter, which says “biometric surveillance tools like palm scans and facial recognition now threatens to transform [music venues] into hotspots for ICE raids, false arrests, police harassment, and stolen identities”.

“It’s simply a matter of time before we hear of cases of palm scans misidentifying people in the ways that facial recognition has – often with violent and life-altering consequences – but most concerning of all is the fact that this new technology will make the data of thousands of people vulnerable to ongoing government tracking and abuse AND malicious hackers,” reads the letter.

“It’s a matter of time before we hear of cases of palm scans misidentifying people in the ways that facial recognition has”

The letter references an earlier campaign protesting facial recognition technology at festivals, which was responded to by over 40 of the largest US music festivals, including Burning Man, Coachella, South by Southwest and Lollapalooza.

It says that introducing the palm scanning devices is a “slap in the face to fans and artists that have fought so hard to promote safety for everyone at live events”.

Amazon previously said it keeps the palm images in a secure part of its cloud and doesn’t store the information on the Amazon One device. Users can also ask for their information to be deleted at any time, the company added.

A spokesperson from Amazon responded: “The claims made by this organisation are inaccurate. Amazon One is not a facial recognition technology – it is an optional technology designed to make daily activities faster and easier for customers, and users who choose to participate must make an intentional gesture with their palm to use the service.

“We understand that how we protect customer data is important to customers—this is very important to us too, and that’s why safeguarding customer privacy is a foundational design principle for Amazon One. Amazon One devices are protected by multiple security controls, and palm images are never stored on the Amazon One device. Rather, the images are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area we custom-built for Amazon One in the cloud where we create your palm signature.”

Read the full open letter here.


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