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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We need a new rhythm for 2021
The consequences for the major festivals, concerts and events could be huge if the events of 2021 are also cancelled. But the festival and concert industry believes there is a sound way forward. To reach all the way, we need political support and ear splitting.
In a normal year, we in the festival and concert industry have the pleasure of selling 1.7 million tickets for concerts at venues around the country. We sell more than 1.1 million tickets for this summer’s many music festivals and a further 4.3 million tickets for concerts organised by associations, organisations or local bands in the town hall.
However, the corona infection has created a new reality where we have been hit hard and could not create experiences for anything close to the number of people we care for. It was a necessity because we had to take care of ourselves and each other. We support that.
2021 does not have to be like 2020
But the rhythm from 2020 does not have to continue in 2021. We must have found solutions on how we can live in a society with corona. We know more about the virus now than we did in the first wave of the pandemic: treatment options are better, test options are better, and vaccines are on the way.
It’s time for us to think and work together across disciplines to find good solutions
It’s time for us to think and work together across disciplines to find good solutions for how we can once again – when the time is right – come together in communities and loosen up the restrictions.
Here we as festival and concert organisers can contribute, not only in relation to our own events, but in relation to the whole community. As an industry, we have the expertise needed for large assemblies to be handled safely and securely. We believe that with our work we can contribute to other sectors and industries having better opportunities to return to their normal rhythm and level of activity.
We need political support
However, the support, prioritisation and cooperation of the population, the health authorities and the government are crucial. Only with your help is it possible to have an active and vibrant festival and concert life in 2021.
We are in dialogue with the ministry of culture and other relevant authorities. We are happy about that. But we need to work faster and more structured across disciplines if we are to get ready for the coming season.
In this connection, we have of course followed the work of giving permission to hold the European Handball Championship, and we are pleased on behalf of handball and that the rapid test for screening is part of a larger plan for implementation, where the public test capacity is used before, during and after events.
We are working on a similar model as the European Championships in Handball, where rapid testing for screening is part of a larger plan. We feel we have a responsibility to make sure that happens. A responsibility that extends beyond ourselves.
We believe that we can contribute to other sectors and industries having better opportunities to return to activity
We have a responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of ticket holders as well as the many artists, large and small suppliers and voluntary organisations who have their primary income with us.
And we owe it to the entire festival and concert life to get to the finish line. It has taken decades to build the strong festival culture we have in Denmark. The environments and creativity that we as organisations have created in all our diversity risk being lost in the corona crisis.
That is why we are appealing for political support. We can only reach the goal with their help, knowledge and patience when we develop and test new formats. We need your confidence that we in Denmark can succeed in paving the way and solving this great task.
With that confidence, we are convinced that we can find the right rhythm and once again gather many people for a dance that is not about the corona, but about meeting in the joy of music, community and life.
By Signe Lopdrup, director of Roskilde Festival; Søren Eskildsen, spokesman for Smukfest; Brian Nielsen, director of Tinderbox and NorthSide; and Jesper Christensen, director of Live Nation Denmark.