City officials told the Pasadena Weekly they had no knowledge of facial recognition software being used on unwitting fans attending a Taylor Swift concert at the Rose Bowl earlier this year.
“Any face recognition software deployed at the Taylor Swift concert was proprietary to Swifts security detail,” said Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson. “The PPD had no access to the data or technology. Nor were any arrests made based upon what the equipment captured.”
Officials with the stadium did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.
Swift performed in front of a sellout crowd on May 18.
According to an article in Rolling Stone magazine, concertgoers were invited to view rehearsal videos of Swift at kiosks inside the stadium. While they were watching the video, their face was photographed by a facial recognition camera and the results were sent back to a Nashville “command post,” where they were cross-referenced with a database of hundreds of people identified as stalkers of the pop star.
“Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working,” Mike Downing, the chief security officer of Oak View Group, told Rolling Stone magazine.
Downing attended the concert to witness a demo of the system as a guest of the company that manufactures the kiosks according to the magazine.
Downing, a former LAPD officer, was the commanding officer in the LAPD’s counter-terrorism and special operations bureau.
It is not known if the data was shared or is still being stored or how long it was kept.
Earlier this year, Ticketmaster invested in Blink Identity, a startup that claims its sensors can identify people walking past at full speed in about half a second.
Amazon has been marketing its facial recognition software, Rekognition, to law enforcement agencies around the country.
According to the ACLU, the software failed a test the group performed when it incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress, identifying them as other people who have been arrested for a crime.
The false matches were disproportionately of people of color, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus, among them civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), according to the ACLU.
City Council members said they were not informed the software was being use.
“I had no idea they did this,” said Public Safety Committee Chair John Kennedy.
Community members said that concert patrons should have been informed.
“If facial recognition software is going to start being used at the Rose Bowl then there needs to be disclosure made to the public,” said attorney and former Mayor Bill Paparian.
Officials with the Rose Bowl did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.