Artists Unite: Over 100 Sign Pledge to Boycott Venues Using Facial Recognition Technology

todayJune 27, 2023 25

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Artists Unite: Over 100 Sign Pledge to Boycott Venues Using Facial Recognition Technology

Over 100 artists, including renowned guitarist Tom Morello, The Coup frontman Boots Riley, and Rage Against The Machine vocalist Zack De la Rocha, have united in a pledge to boycott venues that employ facial recognition technology.

This collective action comes in response to ongoing protests led by the digital rights activist group Fight For The Future, which has been advocating against the use of such programs due to concerns over privacy. Independent venues have also joined this movement, with 25 venues across the United States, including House of Yes in Brooklyn, The Lyric Hyperion in Los Angeles, and Black Cat in D.C, committing to refrain from implementing face scanning technologies at their live events.

Support for the boycott extends beyond the music industry, as organizations like Greenpeace and the National Lawyers Guild stand in solidarity with the cause.

The campaign’s website outlines the motivations behind the movement, stating that facial recognition surveillance programs often misidentify individuals, with error rates as high as 98%. These inaccuracies have real-world consequences, including harassment, wrongful imprisonment, and unjust deportations. Moreover, facial recognition software exacerbates discrimination by frequently misidentifying people of color, women, and children, thereby amplifying systemic abuse and placing vulnerable populations at increased risk.

Madison Square Garden recently faced scrutiny for its use of facial recognition technology to target and remove lawyers associated with firms involved in legal actions against MSG Entertainment.

The website further highlights the invasive and precarious nature of facial recognition software, noting its susceptibility to cybercrimes and hacking. The organization asserts that minimal regulation is insufficient to mitigate the potential threats and repercussions associated with this technology.

The pledge, available on the organization’s website, acknowledges the success of previous efforts by a coalition of musicians, fans, and human rights groups in persuading over 40 major music festivals, including Bonnaroo and Coachella, to refrain from using facial recognition at their events.

However, the pledge also emphasizes that facial recognition technology is expanding beyond mere surveillance and into realms such as “paperless” ticketing and payment systems. Live Nation Entertainment, the parent company of Ticketmaster, formed a partnership with startup Blink Identity in 2018, with the aim of utilizing their purportedly advanced facial recognition technology for associating digital tickets with attendees’ images, enabling seamless entry into shows.

Leila Nashashibi, a campaigner from Fight for the Future, raised concerns about the inherent inaccuracy of the technology, suggesting that it creates more harm than it solves. She also expressed unease about a hypothetical future where facial recognition technology achieves 100% accuracy, resulting in a complete erosion of privacy and constant surveillance of individuals’ movements.


Written by: AIT

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