Taylor Swift uses facial-recognition technology at concerts to root out stalkers: Report

The controversial technology has since led to an ensuing debate on privacy and rights

Taylor Swift, "Reputation"
Taylor Swift, “Reputation”

    Remember in Minority Report how we thought it was cool when all these stores and hallways recognized Tom Cruise as he passed by? But then also felt kind of creeped out about it, knowing how dangerous that might be if said technology got into the wrong hands? Say, a fascist government? Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but similar tech is currently being employed by the one and only Taylor Swift.

    According to a report by Rolling Stone, the blockbuster pop star’s security team installed a kiosk at her May 18th Rose Bowl show, where fans would come up and watch rehearsal clips. Of course, they were also being studied by new, state-of-the-art facial-recognition software that snapped away all of their mugs to be sent to a Nashville “command post” for cross referencing with images of her stalkers.

    Did you just get chills? Well, she’s not alone, as the publication goes on to report that earlier this year Ticketmaster invested in similar software with startup company Blink Identity, whose sensors will help venues identify people and undoubtedly assist in traffic issues. “It holds a lot of promise,” says Justin Burleigh, Ticketmaster’s chief product officer. “We’re just being very careful about where and how we implement it.”


    Even so, the technology has certainly raised eyebrows.

    As American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) senior policy analyst Jay Stanley tells The Guardian, “this does have larger implications. It is not about this one deployment, it is about where this is technology is headed.” He adds, ““It is generally the wild west when it comes to the use of this technology,” and basically digresses on Uncle Ben’s old adage of “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

    But also great litigation, argues Jennifer Lynch, the surveillance litigation director at the advocacy organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, who tells The Guardian that Swift “would be subject to any of the number of breach notification laws across the country and potentially subject to class action litigation” depending on how they’re storing personably identifiable data that can be breached.

    It’s the secrecy that has critics worried, even Mary Haskett, co-founder of the aforementioned Blink Identity software. She argues that this is software that users should opt into, particularly out of convenience, which is why it’s likely going to be a VIP option. “We wanted to do something with a lot of respect to privacy and turn this into something people can use to make life easier,” she insists.


    Of course, anyone who’s ever seen Will Smith and Gene Hackman crack heads in 1998’S Enemy of the State has been well aware of this technology, fearing that somewhere, and somehow, there’s a little Jack Black and Seth Green waiting around the corner to get us. What? Too paranoid? What have I got to hide? Nothing. It’s been a bad day. Please don’t take my picture.

    All joking a salad, keep your eyes open. Or don’t.


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