Taylor Swift Secretly Scanned Concert-Goers Faces at the Rose Bowl to Search for Stalkers

Friday, 14 December 2018 - 12:32PM
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Friday, 14 December 2018 - 12:32PM
Taylor Swift Secretly Scanned Concert-Goers Faces at the Rose Bowl to Search for Stalkers
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Adapted from images by GabboT/Tony Schek via Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0 – and Pixabay
We're used to weird, vaguely dystopian news surrounding "digital celebrities" like Lil Miquela, but we didn't expect Taylor Swift to go full Black Mirror. According to a short Rolling Stone article, the pop superstar's security team set up kiosks around the venue of the most recent Rose Bowl that displayed clips from Swift's rehearsals, apparently to get people excited about the show to come. What fans didn't know was that the kiosks were also taking photos of their faces and seeing if they matched the facial profiles of known Taylor Swift stalkers.

via GIPHY

According to Mike Downing, the chief security officer for the organization that serves as the advisory board for venues like Madison Square Garden: "Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working." As Rolling Stone points out, it's unclear who owns the collected photos or how long they'll be kept in a database. The photos taken by the kiosks were sent to a "command post" in Nashville, where they were compared to a database of known stalkers. 

It's unclear where this falls in terms of legal consent for data collection, which has become a major issue in the wake of Google's recent scandal involving geo-location data and the related New York Times report on the geo-location data industry as a whole, which it claims is based on misleading consumers...or circumventing consent altogether.

According to Rolling Stone, this kind of facial recognition at entertainment venues is beginning to pick up traction, not just for security, but for customer experience. Ticketmaster has already invested in Blink Identity, a tech firm whose products are apparently able to recognize faces as they walk by. Ticketmaster intends to use this technology to allow for ticket-less admission and faster entrance to venues.

You know, four years ago, we would have laughed at companies like URME Surveillance, which creates prosthetic masks to keep people's identities safe from facial recognition techniques. Now it seems like a growth industry.

Cover image: Composite adapted from images by GabboT/Tony Schek via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0 – and Pixabay
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