Last year Ticketmaster announced its plan to replace tickets with facial recognition at gigs, meaning fans would have their faces scanned on entry into venues. Now, a number of musicians are urging the platform to ban the software, citing harassment, deportation, and arrest as possible dangers.
Led by advocacy group Fight for the Future, the campaign has received public support from Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, Amanda Palmer, Downtown Boys, and more. The group’s site claims facial recognition software will put “undocumented fans, fans of colour, trans fans, and fans with criminal records at risk of being unjustly detained, harassed, or judged”.
As well as encouraging artists to get behind the campaign, Fight for the Future are imploring fans to sign a petition demanding their “freedom to enjoy music” without the fear of being watched.
Writing on Twitter, Morello said he didn’t want “Big Brother at my shows targeting fans for harassment, deportation, or arrest”, while Palmer asserted “people should feel safe and respected at shows, not subject to surveillance”.
Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment revealed its partnership with biometric identification company Blink Identity in May 2018. The latter’s website outlines the uses of its technology, stating: “The Blink Identity security gateway allows venue or festival management to identify people using facial biometrics as they walk at full speed past our sensor, handling over 60 people a minute.”
“Once inside, concert goers can use their face to buy drinks, swag, enter VIP areas, and more,” the site continues. Eerily the company also boasts that its software enables it to “collect usable and shareable data on each person”, though asserts users will have “total control over data”.
Ticketmaster isn’t the first to promote the use of facial recognition – Taylor Swift previously used the software to detect stalkers at an LA show in May last year. Fans didn’t realise their faces were being scanned as they watched Swift’s rehearsal clips in a special kiosk at the venue, with their images cross-referenced with a database of hundreds of the singer’s known stalkers.
Although using your face as a ticket might stop touts, facial recognition is an incredibly dangerous breach of privacy, and a completely unnecessary spiral into Black Mirror territory.