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Ban Facial Recognition at Performance Venues!

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    Ban Facial Recognition at Performance Venues!

    Petition to Congress:

    Congress must ban the use of dangerous facial recognition technology at performance venues.

    Terrifying new surveillance technology that scans your face has already arrived at performance venues all over the country. Called “facial recognition,” these new systems allow police to record your face and match it against an Artificial Intelligence-driven database of images.

    The NYPD has already used this technology to surveil fans outside of venues such as New York’s Apollo Theater.1 Elsewhere in New York, the billionaire owner of Madison Square Garden is also using facial recognition to prevent his political enemies from attending sporting events and comedy shows.2 This technology is brand new and is already being severely abused.

    Spurred by the controversies at the Apollo, MSG, and elsewhere, cities from New York City to Anchorage, AK are already considering banning facial recognition in performance venues.3 Congress should follow these local examples and ban facial recognition at performance venues nationwide.

    There are already numerous examples of facial recognition leading to wrongful arrests. Just last year, there were four known cases of AI being used to wrongfully arrest somebody suspected of a crime4. All four cases have targeted Black men. The NYPD’s decision to film patrons at a hip hop concert at the Apollo theater specifically has also raised questions of targeted racial discrimination. “The NYPD’s use of a video recording device on hip hop fans at a historic institution of Black performance in Harlem is highly concerning.”5

    MSG Entertainment has been using facial recognition technology at its venues since 2018.2 Patrons entering the area are met with signs that read: “Biometric Identifier Information Collected at the Location.” It reads like something straight out of a dystopian Sci-Fi horror movie.

    To make it creepier, the arena combs the websites of certain companies to access photographs of their employees. They feed that info into their facial recognition software which is how they are able to identify specific patrons.6

    This outrageous invasion of privacy must not be normalized. Cities like New York City and Anchorage are already considering banning facial recognition in order to protect their citizens from these abuses. Congress must also take action and ban this practice nationwide.

    1. CBS, “NYPD videoing people leaving Drake concert worries privacy advocates ,” January 24, 2023.
    2. New York Times, “Lawyers Barred by Madison Square Garden Found a Way Back In,” January 16, 2023.
    3. Fox 5, “NYC city council introduces bills to ban businesses from using face recognition,” April 13, 2023.
    4. Wired, “How Wrongful Arrests Based on AI Derailed 3 Men's Lives,” March 7, 2022.
    5. S.T.O.P., “NYC city council introduces bills to ban businesses from using face recognition,” January 23, 2023.
    6. New York Times, “Madison Square Garden Has Used Face-Scanning Technology on Customers,” March 13, 2023.