Tom Morello and Kathleen Hanna are just two of the names to have signed an open letter to music venues, urging them to refuse to implement Amazon palm scanners and similar forms of ID verification.
The letter, signed by Hanna and Morello, argues that Amazon palm scanners are vulnerable to hacking in the cloud database, while they could also be utilised by law enforcement, putting political activists and marginalised groups at even greater risk.
“Palm scans and other forms of biometric data collection, like facial recognition, are tools of state violence,” writes Siena Mann, campaigner for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, in a press release. “Once the databases are created, police and DHS will find ways to access them.”
This isn’t the first time a petition such as this has been organised. In 2019, campaigners successfully dissuaded a number of festivals and venues from implementing facial recognition technology. Like palm scanning, facial recognition is widely considered dangerous because it makes users vulnerable to identity fraud and, some argue, gives the authorities undue levels of power over the public.
In a press release, Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, said: “Music festivals and many concert venues are already unsafe, exclusive, and inaccessible for many marginalized folks, including trans and nonbinary people. Introducing biometric surveillance technology at events, even just for the marginal-at-best ‘convenience’ of making the line move faster, makes music fans less safe.”
Much of the controversy surrounding palm scanning technology is tied up with its manufacturer, Amazon. The big tech giant has a pretty sordid history of selling private data and sharing it with law enforcement. This new technology, as the open letter notes, could well see Amazon in control of even more of the public’s personal data, putting individual liberty at risk. You can read the full letter below.