Music festivals used to be the one place you could blend in and hide from Big Brother, but now? Not so much.

There's no doubt that indoors, while you're attached at the umbilical cord to your various iDevices, you are being watched. The NSA's surveillance of your texts, emails and apathetic 4 a.m. masturbation attempts is no secret, but despite the invasiveness of the government's civilian watchdog program, we expect a certain degree of freedom when we step out into the light of the great outdoors.

This is especially true at music festivals, where the majority of us go to unplug from society. In the presence of our favorite band and the anonymity of a crowd of thousands, we become un-tethered to technology, believing that we are no longer being observed.

However, a new trend in police-work is about to unravel all that. Police, it seems, are starting to use facial recognition technology at music festivals to suss out concert goers with a criminal history.

Nowhere has this technology been implemented with greater fervor than last weekend England's Download Festival. At the event, Leicestershire Police subjected the faces of every attendant strategic  to facial recognition technology, making those 100,000 plus attendees the first music fans to ever be monitored to this extent at a UK music festival.

Police news website Police Oracle reported that, "the strategically placed cameras will scan faces at the Download Festival site in Donington before comparing it with a database of custody images from across Europe." Apparently, they did this to "catch people who steal mobile phones."

… Mobile phone theft, eh? The cost and scope of the  surveillance measure doesn't exactly feel justified by the potential of phone theft … which leads us to believe there are more clandestine motives at work. What are they watching you for?

Weirder yet, Download attendees were subjected to this surveillance without their knowledge. That's not unprecedented; after the Boston Marathon bombing, the Boston Calling festival was subject to heavy but discreet forms of facial recognition surveillance. However, you can excuse the Boston police for such invasion of privacy in the wake of a bombing … but the Leicestershire police? Not so much.

According to The Register, “Police Oracle's publication of the interview [with the Leicestershire Police] has caused significant upset for management at Leicestershire Police, who did not want any advance publicity of their ‘new’ surveillance project. The public would have been informed that it had been placed under surveillance after the event had ended, presumably as part of a ‘you didn't know, therefore it wasn't intrusive’, justification for the scheme.”

Of course, the idea behind surveillance is that the person being surveyed is unaware of it, but that makes way more sense when there's a specific target. With music festival surveillance, there are thousands of unspecified targets. And you don't have to be an ultra-paranoid Edward Snowden minion to know that the data police capture doesn't exactly disappear if your face isn't recognized by the technology. American journalist Kenneth Lipp demonstrated this after he was able to uncover 70 hours of surveillance footage from Boston Calling, that was still sitting online a year later.

Stateside, increased surveillance has taken place at festivals like Lollapalooza, where ever-increasing networks of cameras are placed around the grounds to monitor festival goer's activity. Ostensibly, the intention behind that would be to keep people safe, but one could easily see how minor offenses like smoking weed caught on camera could lead to overzealous arrests.

Whether you see this increased surveillance trend as right or wrong depends on whether you feel safe or invaded by this new technology.

However, most people see it as a means to an end. After all, you’re only going get fucked over by facial recognition if you're already in a custody database. So theoretically, only convicted criminals should lose at this game. The problem is, conviction doesn't always imply the future tendency to commit crime. And certain convictions are so minor that whether or not they necessitate this level of surveillance is dubious.

But regardless of whether you view increased festival spying as helpful or hurtful, the main reason most of us go to festivals is to fade into a crowd and unplug. The knowledge that you’re always being watched by Big Brother only mangles that pipe dream. That being said, there's never been a better time to invest in a disguise: