Red Rocks Abandons Amazon Palm-Scanning Tech After Artist-Led Protest

Red Rocks, the famed amphitheater outside of Denver, Colorado, will no longer use Amazon’s palm-scanning technology following an artist-led protest that included Tom Morello and Kathleen Hanna. 

Denver Arts and Venues, the agency that operates Red Rocks and several other venues and theaters in the Colorado capital, confirmed its decision to the advocacy group, Fight for the Future. “[W]e we haven’t been in touch with Amazon in several months and this isn’t a planned activation at Red Rocks,” the Denver Arts and Venues communication director told the group in a letter. “I’m not sure what the future of this technology is, but at this point, it doesn’t involve our venues.”

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The protest against Amazon’s One Palm Recognition service sprung up last fall after the ticketing service AXS and its parent company AEG Worldwide announced that they would implement the service at Red Rocks, with plans to expand to other venues soon. While the tech was touted as a more convenient, secure, and hygienic alternative to concert entry, critics argued that palm scanners carried serious privacy and safety concerns for concertgoers. 

Fight for the Future, along with 30 other advocacy groups, issued an open letter in response to the news that was signed by artists like Morello, Hanna, Mannequin Pussy, Speedy Ortiz, Jeff Rosenstock, Illuminati Hotties, Anti-Flag, and more. The letter argued that palm scanning technology could turn concerts into “hotspots for ICE raids, false arrests, police harassment, and stolen identities,” and make “the data of thousands of people vulnerable to ongoing tracking and abuse and malicious hackers.”

Evan Greer, the musician and director of Fight for the Future, celebrated Red Rocks’ decision in a Twitter thread, writing, “This is awesome because Red Rocks was one of the first major concert venues in the country to start experimenting with this type of biometric surveillance technology. Them dropping Amazon will send a strong message to other venues. Keep the pressure on!”

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