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News July 5, 2023

Choice Campaigns on ‘Extremely Concerning’ Rollout of Facial Recognition Tech at Concert Venues

Senior Journalist, B2B
Choice Campaigns on ‘Extremely Concerning’ Rollout of Facial Recognition Tech at Concert Venues

Choice is taking a stand against the use of facial recognition technology, which the consumer advocate group claims is being implemented in Australian stadiums and arenas, often without knowledge or consent.

For its latest campaign, announced today (July 5), Choice reps say the privacy policies and conditions of entry statements of 10 venues and their operators reveal “many” allowed for the use of facial recognition technology on site without providing information on where and how it was used.

One of those venues is the country’s largest arena, Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena, notes Choice.

“We’re particularly worried about Qudos Bank Arena, owned by Ticketek’s parent company TEG – one of the biggest players in the Australian data broking space,” comments Choice consumer data advocate Kate Bower.

“TEG is not clear on how and why they collect and use facial recognition data, leaving the door open for harmful selling and sharing of sensitive biometric information.”

The 21,000 capacity venue “is set to host a number of big events this year alone, including Lizzo, Sam Smith and Disney on Ice,” notes Bower.

“The amount of biometric data that potentially could be collected, stored and shared by TEG just in 2023 is massive,” reads a statement.

ASM Global manages the venue at the Sydney Olympic Park precinct.

Qudos has “said they alert attendees to the use of facial recognition through digital signage and their conditions of entry,” reads the statement from Choice, though these signs are said to be “hard to find, difficult to read and would take an average reader over 12 minutes to get through.” Also, the signage “doesn’t mention how the information is stored, shared or used.”

It’s an “extremely concerning” situation, with consumers kept in the dark on where, how and why the data is being used, adds Bower, who, along with Choice, calls for “stronger laws” to regulate the controversial technology.

The Industry Observer reached out to TEG for comment. “TEG does not collect biometric data at Qudos Bank Arena and ASM Global does not share any such data with TEG, its related entities, or any other third party entity,” explains a spokesman for the live entertainment, data and tech giant.

It’s not the first time Choice has placed the live music industry under its microscrope.

For several years, the group has campaigned for a cleaner, clearer secondary ticketing market and, as part of its crusade, awarded a “Shonky” to Viagogo in 2017 for “dodgy practices that tick off consumers.”

Facial recognition has been quietly rolled out in venues around the globe, with operators citing security reasons.

New York City’s Madison Square Garden is one of them. Earlier this year, the Garden’s CEO James Dolan defended the use of the tech to block entry to a handful of individuals, including lawyers who work for a firm engaged in litigation with Dolan’s company.

Just last month, over 100 artists reportedly agreed to boycott venues that use facial recognition technology, as part of an international call for legislation

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