Over 100 artists pledge to boycott venues with facial recognition tech

“Surveillance tech companies are pitching biometric data tools as ‘innovative’ and helpful for increasing efficiency and security… It’s morally corrupt.”

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A facial recognition camera

Image: Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

Over 100 artists and 25 venues have signed up for a pledge that tackles the rising use of facial recognition technology in live music spaces.

Facial recognition is supposedly being rolled out for security reasons at venues, but in December last year Rolling Stone reported that Madison Square Garden was using the tech to remove lawyers who were in the process of suing them from events.

Concerns regarding racial discrimination and wrongful convictions have also been raised, leading to the boycott being organised by digital rights advocacy group Fight For The Future.

So far, artists such as Tom Morello, Zack De La Rocha, Boots Riley, Wheatus, Deerhoof, Bedouine, Anti-Flag, Riobamba, Jill Sobule, Mirah and many more have promised to boycott venues who implement facial recognition.

Venues including House Of Yes, Powerhouse Arts and more in the US have also agreed to keep their spaces free of the tech. In recent years a coalition of musicians, fans and human rights organisations has already caused over 40 large festivals such as Bonnaroo and Coachella to also agree to remaining facial recognition-free.

Leila Nashashibi, a campaigner at Fight for the Future, says in a press statement (via NME): “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 continues: “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 percent perfectly – in other words, a world in which privacy is nonexistent, where we’re identified, watched, and surveilled everywhere we go.”

You can find out more and sign the petition here.


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