Artists, Venues Join Growing Call to Ban Facial Recognition at Shows

ban facial recognition at concert venues petition
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ban facial recognition at concert venues petition
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Photo Credit: Hannah Rodrigo

Over 100 artists and 25 venues have joined a pledge to ban facial recognition at their shows and concerts. 

The news comes after the Madison Square Garden venue used facial recognition technology to identify lawyers working for law firms currently engaged in litigation against the company—banning those lawyers from attending events. Now artists are banding together to say that invasive biometric scanning to ban people isn’t safe.

“Artists, venues, and fans, you have a choice when it comes to the technology that’s present at live events. Pledge now to help us fight it,” the organization pleads. Some of the artists currently on board include Tom Morello, Zack De La Rocha, Boots Riley, Speedy Ortiz, and many more. 

So what’s so bad about facial recognition at live shows?

The coalition says it exacerbates discrimination against minorities. It allows stores, businesses, and law enforcement to track and target individuals with no oversight or accountability. Police have used the technology to identify people in the Black Lives Matter movement. “Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan has used facial recognition to single out and punish people attending events—who’s to say he isn’t also using the tech against his own employees?” the coalition posits. 

Once biometric information is collected and stored in a database, it becomes an easy target for misuse. Successful attacks have already stolen millions of data points from Americans across the globe and facial recognition tech databases are one of the juiciest targets for hackers. 

Most states don’t have laws that require venues to disclose if they are using facial recognition. Madison Square Garden Entertainment chose to disclose the use of the technology while on its premises, including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and Beacon Theater—because New York law requires that they do so. Venues in states that don’t have laws like this are not required to disclose the use of facial recognition technology. 

Ticketmaster has partnered with facial recognition company Wicket to begin using biometrics at stadiums and venues. Meanwhile, AEG Presents has tried to introduce biometric palm scanning as a ticketing option in Colorado.