The rollercoaster that is Taylor Swift’s Politics is, upon examination, more of a flat line. She refrained from discussing the 2016 election only to reveal in the midterms that she does indeed vote—Democrat in this case. She has faced down groping and stalking, and those are true injustices, but part of her team’s response is mass surveillance of her fans. She’s a snake, but just as easily a cat.
Rolling Stone reported on Wednesday that at her concert at the Rose Bowl in California on May 18, fans were not aware they were being monitored with facial recognition technology as they stared at screens broadcasting footage of Swift rehearsing. Mike Downing, chief security officer of Oak View Group (an advisory board for major concert venues) told Rolling Stone that the images captured at the concert were transmitted to a “command post” in Nashville. “Everyone who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working,” Downing said. Swift fans’ faces were reportedly cross-referenced against a cachet of images of Swift’s stalkers.
Privacy issues abound, but the very short Rolling Stone write-up kept its inquiry into that matter to a minimum:
“Despite the obvious privacy concerns—for starters, who owns those pictures of concertgoers and how long can they be kept on file?—the use of facial-recognition technology is on the rise at stadiums and arenas, and security is not the only goal. Earlier this year, Ticketmaster invested in Blink Identity, a startup that claims its sensors can identify people walking past at full speed in about half a second. The ticketing giant hopes the technology will help fans move through turnstiles more efficiently, a privilege that may be offered to high rollers and VIP guests before it reaches the masses.”
Oh, well, if facial recognition is going to make money for concert venues and tech companies by helping rich people feel they’re not being sullied by surveillance and can master a light breeze as they sail through security, then by all means…violate all our privacy.
I should add that one of Swift’s stalkers was sentenced to six months in prison earlier this month after using her shower. Intelligencer reports that Swift’s representation has declined to comment on the facial recognition technology.