It all started when Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. (MSG Entertainment) used facial recognition to eject a lawyer suing the company from a show.
MSG Entertainment ejected lawyer Barbara Hart and her husband from a Brandi Carlile show on October 22. Hart is an attorney at Grant & Eisenhofer, who is currently suing MSG Entertainment as part of a class action lawsuit. A similar situation happened to Kelly Conlon, an associate at a firm suing MSG Entertainment, who was thrown out of a Radio City Rockettes show at Radio City Music Hall she was attending with her daughter and Girl Scout Troop.
Now a petition has surfaced calling for the end of facial recognition at shows. The petition is publicly backed by Rage Against The Machine members Tom Morello and Zack De La Rocha alongside bands like Anti-Flag, War On Women, Hånd, and way more.
"The music industry is reeling at news that the owner of iconic New York City venue Madison Square Garden is using facial recognition to identify, harass, and ban people from his venues," reads the introduction to the petition. "This invasive biometric surveillance isn't safe, especially for Black and brown people who have been falsely arrested or ejected from public places due to the tech's baked-in discrimination."
The petition, which you can check out here, also breaks down why facial recognition is bad into four bullet points. They are:
- It exacerbates discrimination: Facial recognition enables stores, businesses, and law enforcement to track and target specific individuals and communities with absolutely no oversight or accountability. Given existing structures of discrimination that shape society and institutions like the police, we know that advanced surveillance tools like facial recognition will only fuel existing harms against communities of color and marginalized groups.
- It chills free speech: Police have already used facial recognition to identify and target people in Black Lives Matter demonstrations. This violates protesters’ rights and fundamentally threatens democracy by making people too afraid to participate in social movements. The use of facial recognition by business owners will have similar chilling effects – for example, by discouraging employees filing sexual harassment or racial discrimination complaints. Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan has used facial recognition to single out and punish people attending events – who’s to say he isn’t also using the tech against his own employees?
- It’s not secure: Once our biometric information is collected and stored in databases, it’s an easy target for identity thieves or state-sponsored hackers. Successful attacks have already happened, and will only grow more commonplace as government and private use of this technology expands.
- It doesn’t work: Facial recognition programs identify the wrong person up to 98% of the time. These errors have real-world impacts, including harassment, wrongful imprisonment, and deportation.