Facial recognition at music festivals targeted, California police ban softens and school district pauses

Fight for the Future has taken its stand against facial recognition to the musical festival circuit, calling on fans and musicians to join it in urging concert venues and musical festivals to commit to not using the biometric technology, and targeting Ticketmaster and its Live Nation-owned counterparts in particular.

Ticketmaster announced last year it would trial facial recognition for event access, and just prior to the announcement of a Live Nation investment in Blink Identity.

The campaign warns of a number of potential problems caused by the use of facial biometrics, including misidentification of visible minorities, permanent inclusion in government databases, deportation, and the matching of facial images with home addresses and ticket purchase details. Musicians including Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave), Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls), The Glitch Mob, Atmosphere and Speedy Ortiz have endorsed the campaign. The Summer Meltdown festival also announced its support, and that it will not use facial recognition, on Twitter.

Facial recognition has been used by Taylor Swift to screen for known stalkers at her 2018 Rose Bowl performance, and Chinese authorities also arrested a wanted man at a concert in 2018 using the technology.

California pulls back on ban

Legislation to ban the use of facial recognition with police body cameras has been watered down as it makes its way through the state assembly, in response to the objections of numerous law enforcement groups, CalMatters reports.

Assemblyman Phil Ting recently revised the bill to a three-year ban, after previously amending it from a permanent ban to one lasting seven years.

“We talked to a number of senators and they had a concern with the length of time, so we decided to shorten the length of time,” says Ting.

Ting also suggested that his concerns are largely based on the apparent inaccuracy of the technology in law enforcement deployments.

“Huge events such as the annual Coachella Music and Arts Festival, the upcoming Los Angeles Olympics, World Cup Soccer Tournament, Rose Bowl, Disneyland and scores of popular tourist attractions should have access to the best available security-including the use of body cameras and facial recognition technology,” the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association argued in a submission. “By banning this technology, California will be announcing to the nation and world that it doesn’t want our law enforcement officers to have the necessary tools they need to properly protect the public and attendees of these events.”

Ting represents a riding in the San Francisco area. San Francisco was the first major city in the U.S. to ban the use of public facial recognition by public agencies earlier this year.

Lockport School Board pulls back on implementation

The new surveillance camera system deployed by Lockport City School District includes object recognition to detect firearms on school premises, but does not use the AEGIS facial recognition software as originally proposed, Buffalo’s 7 Eyewitness News reports.

The board announced it would not include images of any students in the system’s facial recognition database last week, following pushback from the New York State Education Department and some local parents.

Superintendent Michelle Bradley said she is disappointed, and that deploying the technology is a priority for preventing school shootings.

“We believed from the get-go that suspended students, based on studies from shootings in our country where much too often there have been – they’ve included students who are expelled or familiar with the schools. So we believed that category is something we should consider,” said Bradley.

The majority of school shooters have not been expelled or suspended students, and no other country in the world is nearly as troubled by school shootings as the U.S..

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