Over 100 artists pledge to boycott venues that use face-scanning technology

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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. Artists that have signed the pledge include Boots Riley, Wheatus, Anti-Flag, Downtown Boys, and over 80 additional artists.

Smaller independent venues in the US such as the House of Yes in Brooklyn, the Lyric Hyperion in Los Angeles, and Black Cat in D.C., also pledged to not use facial recognition tech for their shows.

Leila Nashashibi, campaigner at Fight for the Future, shared in a press statement: “Surveillance tech companies are pitching biometric data tools as ‘innovative’ and helpful for increasing efficiency and security. Not only is this false, it’s morally corrupt.”

She continued: “For starters, this technology is so inaccurate that it actually creates more harm and problems than it solves, through misidentification and other technical faultiness. Even scarier, though, is a world in which all facial recognition technology works 100% perfectly – in other words, a world in which privacy is nonexistent, where we’re identified, watched, and surveilled everywhere we go.”

The campaign began after it was revealed that Madison Square Garden was using the 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 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,” the pledge continues. “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 2018, it was reported that Live Nation Entertainment – the parent company of Ticketmaster – was partnering with a company called Blink Identity. The Austin, Texas-based startup “has cutting-edge facial recognition technology, enabling you to associate your digital ticket with your image, then just walk into the show,” Live Nation’s president/CEO Michael Rapino told investors at the time.

Back in May, police were criticised for using live facial recognition in Cardiff during a Beyoncé concert.

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