Artists sign open letter in protest of Amazon’s palm scanners being used at music venues

Image: HaleyScottXO / Flickr

Amazon recently announced that its palm scanning technology Amazon One will be used at sports stadiums, concert venues and other live entertainment venues, allowing audience entry without the need for a ticket. The news has received mixed responses from the public, and hasn’t sat well with artists and activist groups in particular. In fact, a group of over 200 artists and activists have penned an open letter in response to the Red Rocks amphitheater adopting the technology and the venue’s ticketing provider, AXS. AXS and its parent company AEG currently have a contract to develop standalone Amazon One pedestals as access points for events where no ticket will be necessary. The open letter condemns the use of ‘biometric surveillance’ at music and entertainment events, insisting that all firms ban this immediately. 

The letter has been signed by a number of significant people, including Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Bikini Kills’s Kathleen Hanna. The project and motion is led by the Fight for the Future digital rights group. Amongst the fears detailed in the letter, those of greatest concern include the potential for Amazon to send palm data to track marginalised people or activists, based on the company’s previous work with police. The security of the data is also being called into question, with the concern that biometrics could easily be stolen from the cloud. Despite the outcry, it appears that AXS and Amazon will continue to roll out the new technology as planned. The pros being argued for Amazon One include the elimination of physical contact between people (especially important during the pandemic) and the significant reduction of waiting time spent by people trying to get into their venue.