Musicians Demand That Ticketmaster Stop Using Facial Recognition at Shows

Musicians and fans alike are demanding that Ticketmaster stop utilizing facial recognition technology at concerts.

Last year, Ticketmaster announced that they would to admit ticketholders, who wouldn’t need to present a physical or digital ticket. Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, revealed that they’d partnered with Blink Identity, a brand that develops cameras and software that identify individuals’ faces. (Like GPS, this technology was initially created by and for the government.)

Blink Identity’s equipment is so advanced that, according to their website, each ticketholder would be admitted in real-time—that is, without slowing down or stopping at the gates—if his or her identity matched that of the digital ticket’s owner.

The rapid entry pitch isn’t being embraced by everyone, however.  Music fans who are opposed to facial recognition technology believe that it would compromise the safety, privacy, and overall experiences of attendees. For instance, one’s facial profile could be filtered through a law enforcement database in a matter of seconds; those who are wanted for arrest or questioning — or who may be wanted — could conceivably be apprehended before the concert’s end.

The opposition movement has united around “Ban Facial Recognition,” a comprehensive campaign that’s rallying companies, organizations, and individuals to provide their opinions on the use of facial-recognition technology in the United States.

The multifaceted campaign even offers information that specifically details the negatives of using the technology at concerts and festivals.

Multiple artists, including Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, Amanda Palmer, Atmosphere, and others have already backed the campaign.  “I don’t want Big Brother at my shows targeting fans for harassment, deportation, or arrest,” Morello tweeted.  “That’s why I’m joining this campaign calling on Ticketmaster and others not to use facial recognition at festivals and concerts.”

“People should feel safe and respected at shows, not subject to surveillance, harassment, deportation, or arrest,” Amanda Palmer stated.

“Facial recognition surveillance is fucked and has no place in live music,” tweeted the Downtown Boys.

Though Ticketmaster doesn’t hold authority over the artists who sell tickets through their platform, it’s important to note that Live Nation owns Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, and several other festivals.

Fight for the Future’s Deputy Director, Evan Greer, anticipates that support from fans and musicians will grow in the coming weeks and months. Fight for the Future was founded in 2011, and it promotes causes related to copyrights, censorship, and online privacy, amongst other things.

At the time of writing, Ticketmaster, Live Nation, and Blink Identity hadn’t publicly responded to Fight for the Future’s campaign.