Amazon is facing more pushback against its palm-scanning tech, after artists and activists criticised its use.
In an open letter, a group of 200 artists and 30 rights groups called on the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, its ticketing provider AXS and AEG (the parent of AXS) to cancel contracts to use Amazon One scanning at any venue.
“Iconic event venue Red Rocks Amphitheater has introduced Amazon palm scanning technology as a form of ‘convenient’ ticketless entry,” the groups stated. “But the truth is that palm scanning, like facial recognition, is an example of biometric data collection, and could turn Red Rocks into the site of ICE raids, police violence, and false arrests.”
Amazon had launched the Amazon One palm-scanning programme last year, and began rolling out palm-print scanners in Seattle-area Whole Foods stores in April, allowing users to link a credit card to their palm print.
The system is also used in Amazon Go convenience and grocery stores, Amazon Books bookshops and Amazon 4-Star physical stores.
But its use of the biometric system is proving controversial.
In August this year a group of US senators expressed concern to Amazon over palm-recognition technology, and questioned the security of the biometric data involved and how the information is to be used.
And now music artists and campaigners are also calling for the end of its use (and other biometric systems) at concert venues.
“As human rights groups, artists, and music fans, we are calling on Red Rocks Amphitheater, AXS, and AEG Worldwide to immediately cancel all contracts with Amazon for the invasive Amazon One palm scanning technology, and ban all biometric surveillance at events and venues once and for all,” the letter starts.
“The spread of biometric surveillance tools like palm scans and facial recognition now threatens to destroy that, transforming these spaces into hotspots for ICE raids, false arrests, police harassment, and stolen identities,” the letter states.
“Introducing palm scanning devices is a slap in the face to fans and artists that have fought so hard to promote safety for everyone at live events,” the letter states. “It’s simply a matter of time before we hear of cases of palm scans misidentifying people in the ways that facial recognition has – often with violent and life altering consequences – but most concerning of all is the fact that this new technology will make the data of thousands of people vulnerable to ongoing government tracking and abuse AND malicious hackers.”
“The marginal-at-best convenience of scanning a hand instead of a ticket is no excuse for implementing technology that will exacerbate violent systems and cause harm,” the letter states. “Our privacy, safety and lives are at stake.”
Amazon One Palm is touted as as a solution that theoretically helps get people into a venue sooner.
It could also provide reassurance to people concerned about contact with unvaccinated people, amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 5 million people in under two years.
But campaigners are worried Amazon might send any collected palm data to government agencies.
And there is concern over how secure this palm data will be held, in light of ongoing cyberattacks and data thefts.
Amazon has previously attracted criticism from civil rights campaigners over facial recognition software called Rekognition that it provided to US law enforcement agencies.
In June last year, in the wake of the death of George Floyd and protests in the United States, Amazon announced a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial recognition software.
In May 2021 Amazon extended its one-year moratorium on police use of its facial recognition software.
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