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100+ acts boycott venues using facial recognition

Over 100 artists, including Tom Morello and Zack De La Rocha, have pledged to boycott venues that use face-scanning technology.

The boycott was organised by the digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future, and calls for the ban of face-scanning technology at all live events.

Other artist signatories include Boots Riley, Wheatus, Anti-Flag, and Downtown Boys. While 25 venues in the US such as the House of Yes in Brooklyn, the Lyric Hyperion in Los Angeles, and Black Cat in D.C, have also signed a pledge promising to keep their spaces facial recognition-free.

The campaign began after it was revealed that Madison Square Garden was using facial recognition technology to remove lawyers who were in the process of suing them from events.

“This invasive biometric surveillance isn’t safe, especially for Black and brown people who have been falsely arrested”

“This invasive biometric surveillance isn’t safe, especially for Black and brown people who have been falsely arrested or ejected from public places due to the tech’s baked-in discrimination,” reads the pledge.

“In recent years, a coalition of musicians, fans, and human rights groups successfully got more than 40 of the world’s largest music festivals, including Bonnaroo and Coachella, to say they won’t use facial recognition at events. But now this tech is starting to spread — not only as a surveillance tool but also as a form of ‘paperless’ ticketing and payment.”

In 2021, Fight for the Future organised a similar artist-backed protest after Amazon debuted palm-recognition technology at a number of US music venues.

“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,” read a letter from the advocacy group, published at the time.

“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.”


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