Brave new ticketing: MLB goes to facial recognition to gain access to the stadium


Important Takeaways:

  • A handful of Major League Baseball teams are debuting technology this season that allows fans to use their faces, instead of paper or digital tickets, to gain access to a stadium — a significant offering that, depending on one’s personal viewpoint, likely falls somewhere between an incredibly welcome enhancement and an alarming harbinger of eroding personal privacy.
  • Sports fans, like airline passengers or anyone who uses a smartphone, must increasingly ask themselves where to draw the line between technology that makes their experience easier and technology that can sacrifice considerable privacy.
  • A form of facial recognition is the result. The Phillies, Giants, Astros and Nationals are the first clubs to introduce what MLB calls “Go-Ahead Entry,” a league-backed program that was developed with NEC, a Japan-based technology company. Go-Ahead Entry combines with already-in-place, AI-based security screening to allow fans to walk into a stadium without going through a traditional metal detector or ticket-access point. Using advanced recognition software, fans who opt into the program don’t have to stop for anyone as they head to their seats.
  • “You don’t even have to break stride,” Schlough said. “We need to give this to our fans. The society we’re in today, the world we’re in today — it’s instant gratification. Nobody has the time for anything. Nobody wants to wait.”

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Official TSA website openly admitting that it is starting to use facial scanning technology at airports nationwide


Important Takeaways:

  • TSA introduced facial recognition technology into the screening process at select airports. The facial recognition technology represents a significant security enhancement and improves traveler convenience. A traveler may voluntarily agree to use their face to verify their identity during the screening process by presenting their physical identification or passport. The facial recognition technology TSA uses helps ensure the person standing at the checkpoint is the same person pictured on the identification document (ID) credential. Photos are not stored or saved after a positive ID match has been made, except in a limited testing environment for evaluation of the effectiveness of the technology.
  • The agency is using second-generation Credential Authentication Technology (CAT-2) scanners as travelers enter the screening process. This technology assists Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) in verifying the authenticity of a traveler’s ID credential, as well as their flight status and vetting status. TSOs must direct all passengers to the proper lane, either TSA PreCheck® screening, standard screening, or enhanced screening. The CAT-2 units are currently deployed at nearly 30 airports nationwide, and will expand to the more than 400 federalized airports over the coming years.

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Shoplifting continues to rise as retailers push for facial recognition to combat theft

Revelations 18:23:’For the merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.’

Important Takeaways:

  • Shoplifting Climbs as In-Store Shopping Returns
  • Retailers lock up goods, use facial recognition software to track repeat offenders
  • Retailers say theft is rising as more people shop in stores, cutting into profits that were already under pressure.
  • “We definitely had an uptick since last year,” Macy’s Chief Executive Jeff Gennette told analysts earlier this month. “It’s an industrywide trend.”
  • “Theft is growing at a faster rate than sales,” said Dean Rosenblum, a senior U.S. retail analyst at Bernstein Research.
  • A jump in organized retail crime in certain areas of the country is also a factor. “These are crime levels we haven’t seen before,” Mr. Gennette said. 50% increase from 2015, it said.
  • Retailers are combating the problem by adding security guards and cameras to stores, locking up goods and making use of facial recognition software to help identify repeat offenders.
  • A month ago, New York City police asked shoppers to take off their face masks before entering stores, a measure intended to help them better identify criminals. The plea came after four unidentified men stole roughly $1.1 million of goods from a Queens jewelry store.

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‘Wild West’: Caution urged on facial recognition rollout in U.S. schools

By Matthew Lavietes

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A lack of regulation about the use of facial recognition technology at U.S. schools has alarmed education officials and lawmakers who say more research is needed before rolling it out widely.

Schools are fertile territory for the technology as high-profile profile shootings in recent years have exacerbated officials’ and parents’ fears about safety, security experts said.

“Right now, it’s like the Wild West (when it comes to facial recognition technology),” said Mike Matranga, executive director of security at Texas City Independent School District, which has installed facial recognition software at all of its schools.

“Any tool in the hands of the wrong person, is bad. That’s why we have to have good policies in place,” Matranga told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The rise of cloud computing and AI technologies have popularised the use of facial recognition globally, from tracking criminals to unlocking smartphones.

But as cameras appear at unlikely spots across the globe, activists raise fears about lost privacy and say society might be on the doorstep of a dystopia where Big Brother sees all.

Two U.S. Democratic senators introduced a bill in February that would place a moratorium on federal use of facial recognition until lawmakers regulate it.

But regulation has yet to be introduced for its use in schools.

Proponents say the technology can enhance school security by identifying individuals deemed by schools or law enforcement as potential threats.

The software takes statistical measurements of people’s facial features.

It then compares them to databases of faces that schools have created – which typically include local sexual predators, students who have been expelled, parents who have lost custody of their children.

But critics argue facial recognition cameras have potential for abuse and should be thoroughly researched before rolling out the technology on minors.

“We shouldn’t be using our kids as guinea pigs,” said Monica Wallace, a New York state Democratic legislator.

Wallace introduced a bill late last year that would force schools in her state’s government to halt the use of facial recognition for a year. During that time, the bill proposes the State Education Department should study the technology thoroughly.

“Let’s not just take the vendors’ word that this is the best system in the world and that it’s going to keep our children safe. We have to look deeper into it,” said Wallace in a phone interview.

Schools should be investing in methods that have already been proven to promote safer environments, like promoting social and emotive learning, or hiring mental health counselors and security officers, she said.


But as state lawmakers weigh a vote on the bill, some schools in Wallace’s district have already implemented the technology.

Lockport City School District adopted facial recognition-equipped cameras early this year for safety reasons.

School district officials did not reply to several requests for comment.

Some school districts go further, using facial recognition to enforce disciplinary action.

When students are suspended at one of Texas City Independent School District’s, they are added to the system. If they are on school property during their suspension, the software alerts security officials.

Technology companies say it is beyond their control how schools use their products once a sale is completed.

“It’s really up to the schools to create the policy framework around how they’re going to use the technology,” said Mike Vance, senior director of product management at RealNetworks, one of the firms selling AI software to U.S. schools.

“The schools own all of the data and rules,” he added.


Data privacy is a bone of contention for critics of schools using the technology, who warn that schools may not be equipped to stave off sophisticated hackers from stealing sensitive information.

“If someone steals your social security number, you can get a new one. You can’t get a new face,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group.

While acknowledging potential risks, proponents say incorporating facial recognition for safety takes precedent while school officials wait for the U.S. government’s input.

“It may be years before they act,” said Matranga, referring to legislators. “By that time there could be several mass shootings that have taken place.”

There have been over 1,500 shootings at U.S. schools between 1970 and 2019, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database maintained by the Naval Postgraduate School, which is operated by the U.S. Navy.

School shootings in 2019 and 2018 were nearly four times as high as the average rate per year since researchers began collecting the information.

In one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, 26 people, including 20 children, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.


Jason Nance, a law professor at the University of Florida, has researched links between high-profile shootings and a trend of intensifying security at U.S. schools.

Increased surveillance can foster hostile environments that may lead to even more disorder, according to a report he published in 2016.

The report said strict security measures send a clear signal to students they are “dangerous, violent and prone to illegal activity”.

These practices also create a “school-to-prison pipeline” for students with a prior history of disobedience, Nance said in an interview.

“If that student misbehaves in some type of a slight manner because he or she is being watched very carefully, that student could be suspended again, expelled, or introduced to the justice system.”

U.S. college campuses are more reluctant than schools to introduce facial recognition technology, according to Fight for the Future.

The group got more than 50 prominent U.S. universities to commit to rule out facial recognition for surveillance on their campuses.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) announced last month it had abandoned plans to install facial recognition surveillance systems on its campus, following a backlash by students.

Greer said the use of facial recognition technology should not be up to school officials alone.

“This should not be decided by some school official who maybe has their students’ best interest in mind, but might not have the expertise to know the potential harms of using technology like this,” said Greer.

“If left up to companies that make and sell this technology it would be everywhere,” Greer added.

(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes, Editing by Astrid Zweynert and Zoe Tabary. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit

Moscow deploys facial recognition technology for coronavirus quarantine

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Moscow is using facial recognition technology to ensure people ordered to remain at home or at their hotels under coronavirus quarantine do so, the mayor of the Russian capital said on Friday.

Russia has temporarily barred Chinese nationals from entering the country to curb the spread of the virus, but has welcomed Russians who return home with an order to spend two weeks at home, even in the absence of symptoms.

Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said some 2,500 people who had landed in the city from China had been ordered to go into quarantine. To prevent them leaving their apartments, the authorities are using facial recognition technology in the city to catch any offenders, he said.

“Compliance with the regime is constantly monitored, including with the help of facial recognition systems and other technical measures,” he wrote on his website.

In one case described by Sobyanin, surveillance footage showed a woman who had returned from China leaving her apartment and meeting friends outside. The authorities were able to track down the taxi driver who had taken her home from the airport thanks to video footage, Sobyanin said.

Sobyanin said the city was also forced to carry out raids against possible carriers of the virus, something he said was “unpleasant but necessary.”

The Moscow mayor’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Sobyanin said last month that the city had begun using facial recognition as part of its city security surveillance programme.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had not seen details of the actions being taken in Moscow but that measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus should not be discriminatory.

The clamp down on quarantine rules comes after a woman in St. Petersburg staged an elaborate escape from a hospital where she said she was being kept against her will.

The incident, which resulted in a court ordering her to return to the quarantine facility, raised questions about the robustness of Russia’s coronavirus quarantine measures.

Russia has reported two cases of the illness – two Chinese nationals who have since recovered and been released from hospital, according to the authorities.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; additional reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Editing by Christina Fincher)

Strip searches and ads: 10 tech and privacy hot spots for 2020

By Umberto Bacchi

TBILISI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – From whether governments should use facial recognition for surveillance to what data internet giants should be allowed to collect, 2019 was marked by a heated global debate around privacy and technology.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked 10 privacy experts what issues will shape the conversation in 2020:

1. CALIFORNIA DIGITAL PRIVACY LAW – Cindy Cohn, executive director, Electronic Frontier Foundation

“A California law giving consumers more control over their personal information, like the right to know what data businesses have collected about them, to delete it and to opt-out of its sale comes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The legislation could have a ripple effect across the United States, or lead to the passage of a federal law.

This could be good news, if a federal law was to mandate some basic privacy guarantees that states could improve on – or bad news, if it was to instead block stronger state laws.”

2. DIGITAL STRIP SEARCHES – Silkie Carlo, director, Big Brother Watch

“From where we have been to who we have spoken to, our phones contain mountains of data that is increasingly sought after by police during investigations. So-called “digital strip searches”, where crime victims are asked to hand over their phones, are becoming common place all around the world.

In Britain, victims of rape are now routinely required to give police full downloads of their phones, and police can keep the data for 100 years. It’s no coincidence that almost 50% of victims are dropping their cases.

There’s no law in the UK around this and it’s likely we’ll see a showdown between police, data regulators and privacy advocates in 2020.”

3. FACIAL RECOGNITION – Jameson Spivack, policy associate, centre on privacy & technology, Georgetown Law Centre

“In 2019, face recognition technology became an integral part of the public debate about privacy, as people realized just how much of a risk this technology poses to civil rights and liberties.

Public officials have responded, with bans and proposed regulation at all levels of government. These conversations will come to a head in 2020.

In the U.S. this could mean new federal, state, or local policies around how law enforcement is allowed to use (or not use) face recognition; rules for companies developing the technology; and/or increased enforcement action from entities like the Federal Trade Commission or state attorneys general.”

4. BEHAVIOURAL ADVERTISING – Karolina Iwanska, lawyer, Panoptykon Foundation

“A wave of complaints against the use of personal information to target advertising online have been filed with data authorities across the European Union over the past two years.

The Irish data protection authority – which is a lead authority for Google – started an investigation into the company’s advertising business and the British ICO has published a damning report on the ad-tech industry.

2020 should bring much needed decisions in these cases, potentially leading to fines and further restrictions on companies’ use of people’s data.”

5. EU BUDGET – Edin Omanovic, advocacy director, Privacy International

“Next year, the EU will decide its budget for the years 2021-2028. How it will spend what is likely to be in excess of 1 trillion euro ($1.10 trillion) will have a transformative impact not just on its residents, but around the world.

For the first time, it will spend more on migration control than on developing Africa, often involving some sort of surveillance, which could pose huge threats to privacy and other human rights.”

6. AI TECHNOLOGIES – Diego Naranjo, head of policy, European Digital Rights

“A 2019 report on facial recognition by the EU’s rights agency represented a crucial step in the debate that we as societies need to have prior to deploying such technologies, which affect privacy, data protection, and other rights.

We could end up implementing practices in Europe which horrify us when they are implemented elsewhere, for example in China.

This conversation, as well as examining the impact of other technologies, like the potential discriminatory impact of “AI-based lie detectors” on vulnerable groups, such as migrants, will be an important part of the debate in 2020.”

7. ALGORITHMS’ DECISION MAKING – Sandra Wachter, professor, Oxford Internet Institute

“The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) currently focus on things like transparency, consent and notification of data collection, but not on how we are evaluated after data is collected.

This means users have few rights to challenge or contest how they are assessed by algorithms processing their information, which is worrisome since our digital identity steers our paths in lives and impacts our opportunities.

In 2020, the EU’s data watchdog will publish several recommendations on how to improve data rights. This is a great opportunity to give guidance to transform the GDPR, introducing more controls over how algorithms evaluate us.”

8. TARGETED POLITICAL ADS – Matthew Rice, Scotland director, Open Rights Group

“Personal data is becoming ever more central in the operations of political campaigns, as parties buy up commercial data sets in an attempt to derive the voters’ opinions and decide whether to target them online and how.

This practice stretches the limits of data protection laws and strains trust in democratic systems.

With the U.S. Presidential elections taking place in 2020 expect to see a huge amount of attention paid on what personal data parties are using and how they are using it.”

9. BIOMETRICS TECHNOLOGIES – Carly Kind, director, Ada Lovelace Institute

“In 2020 biometrics technologies are likely to come under the serious scrutiny of regulators in Europe (and possibly beyond).

We’re approaching a tipping point in public concern about the increasing ubiquity of facial recognition. In China 84% of people surveyed want the opportunity to review or delete facial data collected about them.

EU authorities have promised facial recognition regulation will be forthcoming in 2020. It is critical that it looks beyond facial recognition to the entire gambit of AI-enabled biometric technologies that will be rolled out in the years to come.”

10. IRELAND’S DATA AUTHORITY – Paul-Olivier Dehaye, co-founder,

“In 2020, Ireland is likely to come under increased pressure from other European countries to take a stronger stance on data protection after years of lax enforcement.

Thanks to the EU’s harmonization mechanisms, the Irish data authority could be compelled to adjust to the stricter parameters used by its EU counterparts when deciding on the growing number of privacy complaints filed by EU citizens.

As Ireland hosts the European headquarters of U.S. technology firms like Facebook and Google, this would have far-reaching consequences across the bloc.”

($1 = 0.9073 euros)

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

Obama Administration To Reconsider Facial Recognition Technology

The Obama administration said Tuesday they plan to review the privacy implications of facial recognition technology ahead of reported plans to implement the system nationwide in the next two years.

A Commerce Department spokesman said they recognize the concerns of privacy advocates and tech groups and will be working with them to specifically identify the problems with the technology.

“Facial recognition technology has the potential to improve services for consumers, support innovation by businesses, and affect identification and authentication online and offline,” Larry Strickling, the administrator of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration told The Hill. “However, the technology poses distinct consumer privacy challenges … and the importance of securing faceprints and ensuring consumers’ appropriate control over their data is clear.”

Concerns about the technology first arose when Facebook began cataloging user profile pictures into a system that allowed them to auto-tag photos of people. Several Democratic senators applauded the Commerce Department decision to further investigate the situation.

“Clear policies that support consumer privacy are crucial as facial recognition technology is developed and deployed,” Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts said.

FBI To Launch Nationwide Facial Recognition System

The FBI has announced they will be launching a system in 2014 that will allow law enforcement to use facial recognition to track and follow citizens.

The computer-based system will automatically identify a person based on a digital image or video source that is matched to a massive database.

The process had been a work of fiction on TV shows like CSI and other police procedurals but now such a system will be used in real life. The facial recognition program is part of a $1 billion Next Generation Identification System being created by the FBI.

The system will also include iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification.

The FBI says the new system will allow them to reduce terrorist and criminal activity by expanding criminal history information services.