Fight for the Future has released an open letter calling on Red Rocks Amphitheater, its ticketing partner AXS, and AEG Worldwide to immediately cancel all contracts and plans to use Amazon’s palm scanning technology for event entry, and to ban all biometric surveillance at venues and events.
The Amazon One scanners were introduced at Red Rocks in mid September–the result of a contract between AEG and Amazon. AXS, AEG’s ticketing group, says other venues will soon be adding the palm scanning option. Fight for the Future contacted representatives of Red Rocks, AEG and AXS to request a meeting to discuss the dangers of palm scanning, but received no response.
The letter and accompanying background text state that Amazon, a corporation with a disturbing history of collaboration with law enforcement, could pass the biometric data collected from the palm scans to government agencies that want to track and target political activists, people of color, and other marginalized groups. The fact that Amazon is storing the palm scan data in the cloud also raises unprecedented identity theft concerns, given that biometric data are largely immutable–they cannot be changed or replaced if stolen–and corporate cloud databases have frequently been targeted by hackers.
“Palm scanning and facial recognition are simply two sides of the same coin. We’re not letting Amazon and corporations like AEG destroy the incredible ground activists, fans, and human rights advocates have gained in keeping people safe from biometric surveillance at live events,” said Lia Holland (she/they) Campaigns and Communications Director at Fight for the Future.
“I live 15 minutes from Red Rocks and have enjoyed so many amazing nights listening to live music there,” said Caitlin Seeley George (she/her), Campaign Director at Fight for the Future. “It pains me that this palm scanning technology is being used in such a special place, on people who just want to go and enjoy a live show and likely don’t understand the risks of giving over their biometric data – risks like identity theft and having data passed on to abusive law enforcement agencies or marketing companies. We have to stop this technology from spreading before it becomes impossible to avoid, and we expect places like Red Rocks to champion the safety of music lovers over this dangerous and invasive surveillance.”
“Everyone’s safety is at risk if biometric databases are breached by hackers. But at the end of the day, people of color and other marginalized communities will experience (and are currently experiencing) the most destructive impacts of this tech. Surveillance technology will always end up feeding the violent systems of policing, surveillance and mass incarceration that already target those groups. Fundamentally, the fight against biometric surveillance is about the fight for racial justice,” added Leila Nashashibi (she/her), campaigner at Fight for the Future.
In 2019, Fight for the Future was part of a coalition of activists, artists and music fans that convinced 40 of the largest music festivals in the US to say no to dangerous facial recognition technology. AEG made a separate statement denouncing the use of facial recognition in response to the campaign.