Technology

Taylor Swift Used Facial Recognition To Track Stalkers At Concert

Taylor Swift, facial recognition
Ronald Woan from Redmond, WA, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Facial recognition cameras are usually seen at airports and other national security points, but now they have been used at a concert as well. Taylor Swift‘s security team reportedly used them at one of her concerts to keep an eye on stalkers.

A needed safety measure for Taylor Swift

According to Rolling Stone, Taylor Swift’s team used facial recognition technology during her May 18 show at the Rose Bowl. The facial recognition camera was hidden inside a display kiosk at the event. The kiosk showed highlights of her rehearsal. To find out how the technology worked, Rolling Stone spoke with a security expert who was at the concert as a guest of the kiosk company.

“Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working,” the security expert told the magazine.

It sent images of the people who stopped in front of the display to a “command post” in Nashville. The team in Nashville then cross-checked the images with photos of the star’s known stalkers.

The use of technology to identify stalkers is undoubtedly a good move, considering how many rape and death threats Taylor Swift receives. In September, she took out a restraining order against Eric Swarbrick, who has been threatening her since September 2016.

Then in April, police arrested 38-year-old Julius Sandrock outside her Beverly Hills home. Sandrock, who had a knife and was wearing a mask, told police he came from Colorado to visit Swift.

In May, Mohammed Jaffar was convicted of burglary and sentenced to six months in jail after he visited Swift’s New York home five times in two months.

Is facial recognition good or bad?

From a privacy point of view, the use of such technology is scary. It is not known who has the photos of the concertgoers or how long the images will stay with the security team. As of now, there has been no official comment from Swift’s team about the matter.

This type of technology is legally allowed at a concert. Since it is a private event, organizers can use any kind of surveillance to ensure the safety of the star and concertgoers.

Moreover, it is not the first time this technology has been used to monitor people. In April, Chinese police used a similar technology to monitor the movements of its citizens and capture a 31-year-old suspect hiding among 60,000 people during a concert at Nanchang International Sports Center.

Facial recognition technology has been in the limelight this year. Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed the Secret Service’s plans to use the technology in and around the White House. Amazon has also been known to be selling its facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies. Raising a question about the accuracy of Amazon’s tech, the ACLU revealed in July that the software mistakenly identified 28 Congressman as known criminals.

Despite the shortcomings of this relatively new technology, facial recognition is destined to play a more immersive role in everyday life, and the work has already started. For instance, Ticketmaster plans to replace tickets with a face scan which will be tied to the ticket holder’s seat. At some point, it might even be possible to use your face scan as an entry pass.

Netflix and Taylor Swift come together

In related news, Swift announced Thursday via her Instagram account that Netflix will debut a concert film based on her “Reputation tour.” The film will stream on Dec. 31. She also shared a trailer for the film. The trailer takes viewers behind the scenes of Swift’s tour.

“You made this tour so insanely fun for all of us on stage, and I’m really excited that we will have this memento of the memories we all made together this year,” Swift told her fans in the post.

Swift is not the first musician to bring part of her live show to Netflix. Parts of Bruce Springsteen’s one-man Broadway show will stream on Netflix on Dec. 15.

With her partnership with Netflix, Swift now joins a growing list of big names who are helping the streaming company develop its original content library. The list includes Barack and Michelle Obama, comedian David Letterman and more.