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Why it matters: Next time you are at a concert, take note that Big Brother is watching you. Concert venues have reportedly started using facial recognition to identify stalkers and VIPs.
Taylor Swift's team set up hidden cameras inside of display kiosks throughout the venue. According to Rolling Stone, the screens were showing behind the scenes clips of her rehearsal. As viewers watched the video, a camera was taking pictures of them and sending them back to a "command post" in Nashville. There the images were fed to a facial recognition system that looked for known Taylor Swift stalkers.
The singer allegedly receives hundreds of death and rape threats regularly from sketchy fans. It would seem the preventative measure was justified.
"Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working."
Regardless of the use, the practice does raise questions over concert-goers' privacy. Who owns the pictures? How long will they remain on file? Did the kiosks or venue operators make it known that the images were being gathered? Consent would not be an issue since most ticket sellers have an implied consent clause for the purpose of filming and photographing the concert.
Swift's representatives have not replied to requests for comment.
Despite the questions and concerns, it would seem that plans to implement similar technology are proceeding. Back in May, The Verge reported on Ticketmaster's plan to replace tickets with facial recognition. It would also like to use the technology to identify VIPs and "high-rollers" who would be willing to pay a high fee to skip the line.
A startup called Blink Identity, in which Ticketmaster is heavily invested, claims to have sensors that can capture and identify faces of people who are moving in less than a second. Ticketmaster hopes to use the technology to speed up lines at concerts. What impact this will have as far as those who would preferably not be recorded in such a way remains to be seen.
Lead Image by Christopher Polk/TAS18/Getty Images