Manchester City plays down face recogntion talk
20 August 2019 16:23 GMT

A Manchester City source has told UK national media that reports of a pilot facial recognition scheme were premature.

The source told the Guardian there is no such plan in place, adding that the club would always be “open to exploring new and appropriate technologies and systems to improve fans’ experience at the stadium”.

Blink Identity, which is based in Austin, Texas, last month said it would pilot its facial recognition solutions at the Etihad Stadium after success in the recent five-day City Startup Challenge in Manchester, which was run by City Football Group (CFG).

The Ticketmaster-backed company gained a pilot project opportunity at the Etihad Stadium by demonstrating its proprietary facial recognition solution and how it can enhance the fan experience and engagement.

At the time, Blink Identity said it was chosen to start work with CFG in the coming weeks, facilitating its VIP and academy access solutions.

In May, Blink entered into a partnership with entertainment company Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, for an initial rollout of facial recognition technology for its organisation.

Hannah Couchman, the policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, told the Guardian: “This is a disturbing move by Manchester City, subjecting football fans to an intrusive scan, much like taking a fingerprint, just so they can go to the Saturday game.

“It’s alarming that fans will be sharing deeply sensitive personal information with a private company that boasts about collecting and sharing data on each person that walks through the gate, and using this to deny people entry. Manchester City should urgently reconsider their involvement in normalising a mass surveillance tool which can track and monitor us as we go about our everyday lives.”

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