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Anti-facial recognition campaign gains artist support

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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Facial recognition tech keeps concerts safe

Vertus Fusion, a new events security platform, is using biometric identification and social media monitoring to enable event organisers to detect and ban concertgoers who post offensive internet content.

The platform, “created with the intention of bringing multiple technical security disciplines under one banner”, is available for use by venues, artists and ticketing providers.

Buyers must upload a photo of themselves upon purchase of event tickets. Facial recognition is then paired with social media monitoring algorithms to determine whether fans have committed hate crimes online or engaged in any other offensive behaviour.

Event organisers can instantly withdraw tickets from the recipient through the Vertus Fusion platform, which allows all digital content to be securely disseminated, viewed and tracked.

The platform also alerts organisers to buying behaviours synonymous with touting, such as the bulk buying of tickets.

“We have developed a secure ticket platform which can work with ticket providers and venues,” says Richard Ryan, co-founder of Vertus Fusion.

“Details are sent from the ticket provider, we can verify their [the buyer’s] identity and we can remove that ticket if they have given another identity or if they have posted hate material or inciteful things.”

“We can verify their [the buyer’s] identity and we can remove that ticket if they have given another identity or if they have posted hate material or inciteful things

Ryan, the director of security technology firm SentiGPR and a former barrister, believes Vertus Fusion could be integral in preventing terror attacks such as the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.

“Terrorists want to put this information out there to say what they are going to do. We can put a geo-fence around any arena in the world, in any language, and monitor it,” says Ryan.

A geo-fence uses GPS or radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to place a virtual boundary around a real-life geographic area – such as a concert venue – allowing monitoring of those within the “fence” and alerting the user when a subject enters or leaves the designated area.

“If someone comes up as a threat, we analyse that person’s profile by going to different places on the web where we can make a decision on risk,” explains Ryan.

The use of biometric identification is growing in the concert business, for both security and ticketing purposes. A hidden facial recognition camera was used at a run of Taylor Swift shows in 2018 to detect known stalkers.

Blink Identity, the biometric identification start-up backed by Live Nation/ Ticketmaster, debuted its facial recognition technology at international identity tech conference KNOW earlier this year.

 


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