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.
Amazon takes palm-recognition tech to venues
Amazon is bringing its palm-recognition technology to music venues, starting with the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the US.
According to AP, the e-commerce giant has inked a deal with AEG to bring Amazon One to the Denver venue, which sells tickets on AEG’s ticketing site, AXS.
Starting from today (14 September), concertgoers at the 9,525-capacity venue can sign up to connect their palm to a ticketing account by hovering their hand over a device.
Concertgoers only need to sign up once and then can use their palm to get into other shows and events at the venue. An Amazon account is not needed to use it.
It’s the first time the Amazon One technology will be used outside some of Amazon’s stores, where shoppers can pay for groceries by swiping their palms.
Concertgoers only need to sign up once and then can use their palm to get into other shows and events at the venue
Bryan Perez, CEO of AXS, says other venues plan to add the technology in the coming months but he declined to say where or how many. AEG partners with more than 350 stadiums and theatres around the world.
“Concertgoers can get to their seats faster with their palm than holding up their phone to an attendant to scan a bar code. Those who want to scan their palms will have a separate lane to enter,” says Perez.
“You don’t have to fumble around with your phone. Your hand is always attached to your body.”
Addressing privacy concerns, Amazon 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.
Footage from major fests to be shown in WMG’s PlayOn Fest
Past performances at major festivals including Coachella, Primavera Sound and Rock in Rio, as well as from venues such as the O2 Arena, will be streamed as part of Warner Music Group’s three-day virtual event, PlayOn Fest.
The event, which kicks off on Friday (24 April) at midday EDT will stream live for 72 hours via the Songkick YouTube channel, allowing fans to “relive epic performances for one time only”.
The virtual festival will raise funds for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 solidarity response fund through the sale of merchandise and donations.
Performances from over 65 acts, including Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, Coldplay, Twenty One Pilots, Bruno Mars, Janelle Monáe, Green Day and Slipknot will be broadcast over the three-day event.
“PlayOn Fest is a great way to come together, enjoy good music and company, and support the WHO’s most urgent global work to combat Covid-19”
PlayOn Fest will include festival footage from Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Primavera Sound and Rock In Rio, as well as live shows from London’s O2 Arena, Sydney Opera House and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
“During this pandemic, we are all searching for ways to stay connected,” says Elizabeth Cousens, president and CEO of the UN Foundation, which powers the WHO’s Covid-19 fund.
“The PlayOn Fest is a great way to come together, enjoy good music and company, and support the World Health Organization’s most urgent global work to combat Covid-19.”
Over the weekend, the Global Citizen-organised, Lady Gaga-curated One World: Together at Home benefit concert, which featured live performances from acts in real time, raised $127 million for the WHO’s fund.
Read more about the booming business of livestreaming here.
Photo: slgckgc/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)
Disabled activists sue over Red Rocks seating
A coalition of Coloradan disability-rights activists are suing the city of Denver for alleged discrimination, claiming they are being denied “meaningful access” to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
The lawsuit, filed in the US district court of Colorado, says the ticketing and seating policies of the 9,525-capacity venue, owned and operated by the city, “make it very difficult for such patrons [disabled people] to purchase tickets in the approximately one-half of the accessible seats located at the front of the amphitheater [sic].”
Red Rocks (pictured) currently only makes rows one and 70 accessible for those with disabilities due to “ticketing procedures”.
“”I know a lot of people are coming in fraudulently, buying the front row seats”
One of the plaintiffs, Frank Mango, says he dislikes sitting in 70, the final row, and that the first row is almost always sold out at face value. He tells Colorado’s 9News: “I know that’s a lot of people coming in fraudulently, buying the front row seats. That’s one of the biggest concerns: […] when I get to Red Rocks, they’re not going to question me whether or not I need those seats or not for disability.”
The suit, brought by Disability Law Colorado, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, asks the city to clearly mark the disabled-accessible rows, similar to parking spaces. The plaintiffs also seek to restrict use of the venue’s shuttle for those with disabilities to genuinely disabled customers.
Brian Kitts, a spokesman for Red Rocks, tells 9News, “if it helps”, the venue would be “happy to do that [mark accessible seats”, but adds: “In my gut, I’m not sure that marking those as handicapped seats does anything except change the semantics.”