Some Music Festivals Could Be Using Facial Recognition Software To Gather Information From Crowds

There’s no doubt we live in the age of technology. While having a smartphone constantly on our person is convenient, many fear it could lead to tracking and invasive data gathering. Facial recognition technology is a new source of apprehension for many, and it already has widespread use. The technology is capable of identifying people and their information from a digital image or video. The activist group Fight for the Future is investigating the use of facial recognition technology at music festivals. New York’s Madison Square Garden is already using the technology, according to the New York Times.

Fight for the Future is currently reaching out to major music festivals across America and pressuring them to commit to not using the technology. According to their scoreboard, festivals like Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, and Lightning In A Bottle have committed to turning down the technology. However, some festivals, like Pitchfork, repeatedly declined a response and made no commitments. Goldenvoice, who runs Coachella, gave a non-answer when asked if they use facial recognition technology: “We are not looking to add to this conversation at this time.” Though Ticketmaster said they currently aren’t pursuing the technology, the company previously invested in facial recognition software and is leaving the door open to “opt-in” for future use.

Activists are concerned the technology could lead to arrests for illegal drug use at festivals and even deportation. “Facial recognition surveillance is uniquely dangerous,” said Fight For The Future’s Director Evan Greer. “It doesn’t keep fans or artists safe, it just subjects them to invasive, racially-biased monitoring that will inevitably lead to fans getting harassed, falsely arrested, deported, or worse. 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.”

Fight for the Future currently has a petition that pushes festivals and their organizers to commit to not using the technology.