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Over 100 artists boycott venues that employ face-scanning tech

Over 100 music artists, including Tom Morello and Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, have banded together to announce they are boycotting concert venues that use facial recognition technology, as originally reported by Rolling Stone. The artists cite a number of concerns, including privacy infringement and increased discrimination.

The boycott was organized by a digital rights advocacy group called Fight for the Future and its ultimate goal is the elimination of face-scanning technology at all live events. Beyond the two founding members of Rage Against the Machine, other participating artists include Speedy Ortiz, Anti-Flag, Boots Riley and Deerhoof, among more than 80 others. The full list is available right here.

In addition to artists, some venues are getting in on the action, pledging to not use this type of technology for their events. These include House of Yes in Brooklyn, the Lyric Hyperion in Los Angeles and the infamous Black Cat in Washington D.C. In recent months, over 40 big-time music festivals, like Coachella and SXSW, also vowed to stop using facial recognition technology.

Fight for the Future said in a statement that facial scanning companies are “morally corrupt” and that facial recognition tools are “so inaccurate” that they “actually create more harm and problems than they solve.” While the organization says this tech is rife with inaccuracies, for now, it dreads a future world “in which privacy is non-existent, where we are identified, watched and surveilled everywhere we go.”

Nobody wants a Minority Report-esque police state, but proponents of facial recognition tech tout some of the positives. For instance, Taylor Swift recently employed this technology to root out potential stalkers during concerts. However, it’s already being used to do some pretty foul stuff. Madison Square Garden has begun employing the technology to identify and ban lawyers involved with suits against the venue and affiliated companies.

Several attorneys have been forcibly removed from both MSG and Radio City Music Hall in recent months, prompting New York Attorney General Letitia James to issue a formal inquiry. The New York State Liquor Authority also recently initiated proceedings to strip the parent company, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, of its liquor licenses, as reported by the New York Post. MSG sued the state over this decision and doubled down, saying “we understand this policy is disappointing to some, but we cannot ignore the fact that litigation creates an inherently adversarial environment.”

MSG has received the lion’s share of scrutiny here, but other large venues throughout the country have also gotten their Orwell on, from New York’s Citi Field to Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium and Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, among many others. So this is definitely a thing.

Fight for the Future, along with Morello and artists like Speedy Ortiz, have found success with similar boycotts in the past. In 2022, Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver stopped using Amazon’s palm-reading technology following a protest from the organization.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/over-100-artists-boycott-venues-that-employ-face-scanning-tech-164554404.html?src=rss

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