Taylor Swift used facial recognition tech at concerts to spy on stalkers

Taylor Swift used facial recognition technology at her live performances so that technicians running the system could then check those face scans against a private database of her stalkers.

The company that provided the scanning and analysis service appears to be this event counterterrorism division of Oak View Group, which has received a fair amount of press.

Part of the reason they've been in the press so much: all the deadly attacks at big entertainment events around the world lately.

There is now big demand for serious security at live events the size of a Taylor Swift concert. There have been so many bombings and mass shootings at music concerts over the past year to even remember without Googling. Fear of being killed at a music concert is something people factor in to the decision to buy tickets and go to live events. The demand for security is real.

So is the potential for misuse and abuse of the technology, including by third parties -- hackers, foreign enemies, who knows.

Steve Knopper at Rolling Stone:

Taylor Swift fans mesmerized by rehearsal clips on a kiosk at her May 18th Rose Bowl show were unaware of one crucial detail:

A facial-recognition camera inside the display was taking their photos.

The images were being transferred to a Nashville “command post,” where they were cross-referenced with a database of hundreds of the pop star’s known stalkers, according to Mike Downing, chief security officer of Oak View Group, an advisory board for concert venues including Madison Square Garden and the Forum in L.A.

“Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working,” says Downing, who attended the concert to witness a demo of the system as a guest of the company that manufactures the kiosks. (Swift’s reps did not respond to requests for comment.)

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.

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