After successfully pushing Red Rocks to abandon palm scanning for event entry, campaigners are doubling down on calls for AXS, AEG, and all entertainment companies and venues to reject biometric technology once and for all.
Organizers at Fight for the Future recently received confirmation from the staff at Denver Arts and Venues, the agency that manages Red Rocks Amphitheater, that Amazon’s palm scanning technology will no longer be in use at any of their venues.
The message from the Communications Director at Denver Arts and Venues states that “we haven’t been in touch with Amazon in several months and this isn’t a planned activation at Red Rocks. I’m not sure what the future of this technology is, but at this point it doesn’t involve our venues.” (Fight for the Future is happy to respond to requests for the full message.)
The decision follows a months-long mobilization by artists, activists and human rights organizations aimed at pressuring Red Rocks, its ticketing partner AXS, and AEG Worldwide to 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.
Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre), Mannequin Pussy, Gramatik, Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz, Sad13), Jeff Rosenstock, Evan Greer, Anjimile, illuminati hotties, Martha, DIIV, Anti-Flag, Downtown Boys, and Mirah are among the 300 artists that signed the campaign open letter, calling out the human rights and privacy concerns associated with palm scanning.
“Red Rocks’ decision to abandon Amazon palm scanning puts the venue on the right side of history, as a defender of human rights and the privacy of music fans. Other venues should similarly listen to the hundreds of artists, organizations, and fans who don’t see this technology as “convenient” but recognize it as a tool of corporate surveillance and super-charged state violence,” said Leila Nashashibi, a campaigner at Fight for the Future, “As we speak, AXS is trying to bring palm scanning to a number of new venues – including Mission Ballroom in Denver – making our fight to keep events free of biometric data collection as urgent as ever. This victory at Red Rocks demonstrates what’s possible when we take action together, and we invite artists, organizations, and fans everywhere to join the ongoing effort to ban these tools by adding their names to the open letter at AmazonDoesntRock.com.”
Over 35 leading human rights organizations also endorsed the letter, including United We Dream, Kairos, Access Now, Presente.org, American Friends Service Committee, Media Justice and Jobs With Justice.
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 scanning devices 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 cloud databases have frequently been targeted by hackers.
“I don’t want anyone coming to one of my concerts to have to worry that they’ll be subjected to invasive surveillance, or coerced into handing over their sensitive biometric information to a corporation,” said Evan Greer (she/her), the director of Fight for the Future and a musician who recently released an album titled Spotify is Surveillance, “Music festivals and many concert venues are already unsafe, exclusive, and inaccessible for many marginalized folks, including trans and nonbinary people. Introducing biometric surveillance technology at events, even just for the marginal-at-best ‘convenience’ of making the line move faster, makes music fans less safe.”
Campaign organizers are continuing to circulate the open letter to push all live entertainment companies and venues nationwide to reject tools that collect biometrics.