American music festivals pledge to ban facial recognition technology

 American music festivals pledge to ban facial recognition technology

Around a dozen US music festivals have pledged not to allow facial recognition technology to be used at their events.

The ‘Ban Facial Recognition‘ campaign claims: “Facial recognition is coming, unless we stop it. Major companies are investing in it, and even smaller bars and venues are experimenting with it.

“Festivals, venues, and promoters must take a stand and refuse to use this invasive and racially biased technology, which puts music fans at risk of being unjustly detained, harassed, judged, or even deported. 24/7 mass surveillance will not keep concerts safe. Silence is complicity, so now we’re keeping score.” (links included as given)

The campaign is keeping a scorecard of festivals that have made a commitment to not use facial recognition, along with those refusing to commit.

Bonnaroo, Sonic Bloom, Summer Meltdown and Austin City Limits are among 11 festivals currently pledged not to use the technology. So far, 12 have refused to commit.

Artists including Anti-Flag and Tom Morello have backed the campaign, with Anti-Flag commenting: “People should feel safe and respected at festivals and shows, not subjected to invasive biometric surveillance.”

Ban Facial Recognition infographic
An infographic shared by the campaign

Tom Morello, of Prophets of Rage and Rage Against the Machine, said: ” I don’t want Big Brother at my shows targeting fans for harassment, deportation, or arrest. That’s why I’m joining this campaign”.

Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, the digital rights group behind the campaign, said: “The companies that run major festivals should not be experimenting on music fans by scanning our faces and collecting our biometric information.

“People deserve to know whether their favorite [sic] event has plans to use facial recognition technology. We’re calling on all artists, venues, festivals, and promoters to stick up for their fans’ basic rights and safety by speaking out against the use of Big Brother-style biometric surveillance at live music events.”

The pledge is part of a wider campaign to ban facial recognition across the US. Some cities, including San Francisco, have banned the technology. A petition on the website allows fans to ask the listed American festivals to make their stance known.

British police have previously trialled facial recognition at Download Festival, back in 2015. The data collected was subsequently destroyed.

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