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Hidden facial recognition employed to secretly scan for stalkers at Taylor Swift show

Posted at 12:58 PM, Dec 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-14 13:58:47-05

Security at a Taylor Swift show in California earlier this year secretly used facial recognition technology on the crowd to search for stalkers.

Rolling Stone reports that a kiosk that showed rehearsal clips of her to entertain fans at her May 18 show at the Rose Bowl had a facial recognition camera hidden inside, which transferred pictures of the unwitting fans to a “command post” in Nashville, Mike Downing, chief security officer of Oak View Group, told the magazine.

“Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working,” he said. In Nashville, the pictures were cross-referenced with a database of “hundreds” of known Swift stalkers, Downing said.

Oak View Group is an advisory panel for concert venues, and Downing said he was invited to the show for a demonstration of the system by the kiosk’s manufacturer, who was not identified. A rep for Oak View Group did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s unclear whether the hidden camera was used at more venues during Swift’s recently concluded “Reputation” tour, NBC News reports.

A representative for Swift did not respond to a request for comment to NBC News.

Facial recognition, once an obscure technology, has become more common in the world of security and law enforcement, as well as in consumer products.

New iPhones use a form of facial recognition to verify a user’s identity and unlock the device, while Facebook can find people in photos based on their facial features.

Casinos have used facial recognition to identify high rollers and cheaters, while Ticketmaster is working on a system that would allow concert-goers to use the technology to get into venues faster.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, told NBC that while the desire to ensure Swift’s safety is understandable, the use of facial recognition technology without informing the public is problematic.

“Stalkers are a real problem for celebrities and everybody understands it’s important for people like Taylor Swift to be safe from them,” Stanley said. “This was done in a relatively sneaky way.”

“People should know about this, preferably before they buy their ticket,” he said.

So how do you feel about this?

Is it a good tool to patrol a concert and protect the star?

Or is it a way of surreptitiously stealing your identity without you know about it?