More than 100 artists, including headliners like Zach de la Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, signed on to a new pledge that they would not play in venues where facial recognition technology is being used. The pledge, organized by the Fight for the Future group, comes in the wake of controversy surrounding the use of such technology at venues like Madison Square Garden.
“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,” says Leila Nashashibi, Campaigner at Fight for the Future. “Whether it’s in the form of ticketing, payments, or actual surveillance, facial recognition at live events poses enormous risks to fans, workers, and performers.
💥100+ artists have pledged to boycott venues like @TheGarden that use #FacialRecognition at shows. Signers include @tmorello, @ZackdelaRocha, @wheatus, @BootsRiley, @BedouineMusic, @jillsobule, @anti_flag, @deerhoof, @sad13, @YACHT, @mirahmusic 1/9 https://t.co/nFa3h8a4CG
Fight for the Future has previously pushed back against the use of biometric data by live event organizers, venues, and festivals. In 2019, it secured promises by festivals like Bonaroo, Pitchfork, Governors Ball, and Electric Forest that they would not use facial recognition technology, which they called “unreliable, biased, and a threat to basic rights and safety.” Morello was also signed on in support of that campaign.
The use of facial recognition technology drew fresh attention in the last year after it came out that Madison Square Garden has been using it to identify individuals who are on a venue blacklist, including attorneys guilty of no crime but blocked for representing clients involved in lawsuits against the corporation that owns the venues. This included an incident where a woman was kicked out of a show at Radio City Music Hall while chaperoning her child’s Girl Scout outing.
MSG has been defiant of calls to scrap the practice, while lawmakers have pushed to ban the tech through the legislative process.
Alongside the artists like Morello, de la Rocha, Boots Riley, Wheatus, Jill Sobule, Deerhoof, ANTI-FLAG, and others, the boycott got promises from 25 independent venues to never use the invasive technology. Venues signed on include the House of Yes in Brooklyn and Black Cat in Washington D.C.
The full list of venues and artists signed on is available at banfacialrecognition.com
Venues operated by corporate giants including AEG, Live Nation Entertainment, and Oak View Group, have notably not shown interest in restricting themselves from the use of such technology. Ticketmaster already has a partnership with one facial recognition company for use at some venues, while AEG has faced protest for its deployment of biometric devices at Red Rocks.
“Facial recognition technology doesn’t keep us safe; it perpetuates racist biases and commodifies our biometric data. That’s why I’m proud to have introduced Intro 1014 to ban its use in spaces of public accommodation as well as join with venues and musicians across the country to demand we end the use of this dangerous technology,” said New York Council Member Shahana Hanif. “I am thrilled to see so many venues and artists show their support for banning the use of biometric surveillance. Our opponents claim that this technology is essential to safety in the public arena, but this support proves that it’s the very businesses being marketed this technology that intimately understands its inherent dangers.”
Last Updated on June 23, 2023