More than 100 artists, including guitarist Tom Morello, The Coup frontman Boots Riley, and Rage Against The Machine vocalist Zack De la Rocha, have banded together to boycott venues that use modern face scanning technologies.
It follows repeated protests over the last few months by the digital rights activist group Fight For The Future, who have been campaigning against the use of such programmes. The organisation spearheaded the boycott, with concerns over privacy.
Several independent venues have mirrored this stance, pledging not to use face scanners at their live events. Thus far, 25 US venues, including House of Yes in Brooklyn, The Lyric Hyperion in Los Angeles and Black Cat in D.C have joined the movement.
The movement is also backed by organisations such as Greenpeace and the National Lawyers Guild.
In disclosing the groups motivations behind the campaign, the organisations website reads that “Facial recognition surveillance programs identify the wrong person up to 98% of the time. These errors have real-world impacts, including harassment, wrongful imprisonment, and deportation” it continues.
“Facial recognition software programmatically misidentifies people of color, women and children- supercharging discrimination and putting vulnerable people at greater risk of systemic abuse”
Recently Madison Square Garden was probed regarding their use of facial recognition technology to block and eject lawyers who work for firms involved in legal proceedings against MSG Entertainment from its premises.
The website goes on to describe the invasive, dangerous nature of facial recognition software, and how vulnerable such software is to cybercrimes and hacking. The organisation declares that the mere “light regulation” of such services is not enough to curb the threats and potential repercussions that could arise from it.
Their pledge, accessible via the company’s website, states that “ 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.”
“But now this tech is starting to spread – not only as a surveillance tool but also as a form of ‘paperless’ ticketing and payment.” It continues.
In 2018, Live Nation Entertainment – Ticketmaster’s parent company – formed an alliance with startup company Blink Identity. In a statement made to investors at the time Live Nation CEO told investors that the Texas-based startup allegedly possesses “cutting-edge facial recognition technology, enabling you to associate your digital ticket with your image, then just walk into the show,”
Leila Nashashibi, a Fight for the Future campaigner, stated ‘for starters , this technology is so inaccurate that it actually creates more harm and problems than it solves,”
“Even scarier, though, is a world in which all facial recognition technology world 100% perfectly – in other words, a world in which privacy is non existent, where we’re identified , watched and surveilled everywhere we go.”
Tiffany Ibe is Mixmags Digital Intern, follow her on Instagram.
Written by: Tim Hopkins