Artists Fight Back Against Palm Scanning at Red Rocks

Artists Fight Back Against Palm Scanning at Red Rocks

Red Rocks to Start Palm Scanning Tech Instead of Tickets

MusicNovember 19, 2021 By Evan Vitkovski

Gone are the days of paper ticket stubs to cherish in a box of mementos. Most ticket sales have gone electronic, with the physical ticket reduced to an app on your phone and a QR code to scan. If you’re lucky, there’s a grimy wristband for you to chop off at the end of the show or festival as a keepsake. Now, ticket company AXS, owned by AEG Worldwide, wants to make it even easier for fans to attend shows, using a digital scan of the palm of your hand to gain entry. Biometric data collection rings of big brother-fuelled dystopian hellscapes. What could possibly go wrong? 

They announced in September that Red Rocks would be using the Amazon One Palm Recognition instead of other ticketing options. They said it would be more secure, convenient, and hygienic for everyone. But over 200 artists have spoken out against the technology being implemented at Red Rocks and other venues. An open letter condemning the practice is circulating that shows people are not in support of this new measure, citing security and privacy concerns. 

Fight for the Future and 30 other advocacy groups, including United We Dream and Access Now, have endorsed the letter, which has garnered support from musicians like Tom Morello, Gramatik, and Mannequin Pussy.

Executive director of Presente.org Matt Nelson said in a statement, “Corporations have tried to make this tech sound harmless, but let’s be clear: Amazon has a vested interest in getting millions of people to give up their palm scans. The palm scanning scheme at Red Rocks is simply priming people for the day when submitting iris scans, fingerprint scans, and face scans everywhere becomes totally normalized.”

An effort to use facial recognition technology by Ticketmaster was also protested by Morello and Fight for the Future director Evan Greer, who wrote an article for Buzzfeed to stop them.

Fears over identity theft, criminal misconduct, and other issues brought about by biometric scans are being debated. How would this technology actually benefit the fans? 

According to Rolling Stone, an Amazon spokesperson fought back against the criticism to defend the use of palm scanning by saying, “Amazon One is not a facial recognition technology – it is an optional technology designed to make daily activities faster and easier for customers, and users who choose to participate must make an intentional gesture with their palm to use the service. We understand that how we protect customer data is important to customers—this is very important to us too, and that’s why safeguarding customer privacy is a foundational design principle for Amazon One. Amazon One devices are protected by multiple security controls, and palm images are never stored on the Amazon One device. Rather, the images are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area we custom-built for Amazon One in the cloud where we create your palm signature.”

Of all the technological advances in media, corporate interests always try to placate the masses with promises of safety and security. How many breaches of data have you heard about? If the system isn’t broken, why are they offering to fix it? Buying and selling personal information is a racket that people shouldn’t have to submit themselves to just to enjoy a live concert at Red Rocks or anywhere else.