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Movement to ban facial recognition at venues picks up steam

More than 50 artists have signed a pledge that says they will boycott venues that insist on using facial recognition at shows.
Madison Square Garden
Posted at 2:55 PM, Jul 03, 2023

There's a movement to ban facial recognition at entertainment venues. The initiative was started by Fight for our Future, a nonprofit organization that advocates for what it describes as digital rights. 

The organization points to public reports that show facial recognition has led to false arrests and cases of people being wrongly ejected from venues. 

More than 50 artists have signed a pledge that says they will boycott venues that insist on using facial recognition at their shows. 

"We want everyone to feel safe and welcome at shows," the pledge for artists says. 

Tom Morello, Zack de la Rocha and Boots Riley are among the artists who have signed the pledge.

More than two dozen venues have also signed a pledge committing to not using facial recognition. 

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While most venues don't have to reveal whether they use facial recognition, one of the most popular venues in the world was very public about its use of the technology. 

Officials with Madison Square Garden told The New York Times that facial recognition is a useful safety tool, noting that it's used by law enforcement around the city.

However, Fight for our Future takes issue with that assessment, pointing to a study from Georgetown Law. The study says facial recognition is "likely an unreliable source of identity evidence" and is severely limited by bias. 

In addition to the pledge, the organization is asking people to get involved in the legislative process to ban the use of facial recognition and biometric screenings. 

Lawmakers introduced a bill in Congress in 2021 that would have restricted the use of the technology. However, the bill never made it out of the House of Representatives.

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