Use of Facial Recognition Technology at the Entrance to Urban Facilities
Recently, the Habima Theater and Bloomfield Football Stadium have begun using Preciate's (a company that offers facial recognition services) commercial service to verify visitors' identities through facial recognition technology. This technology has been put to use on the fast-track line for audience members’ entry into the theater and stadium, due to claims that this technology makes it easier to identify those with vaccination certificates.
On May 11, 2021, we appealed to the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and the management of Habima Theater and Bloomfield Stadium, along with the organization Privacy Israel, calling upon them to immediately cease their use of the technology as it violates the visitors' right to privacy, including the privacy of minors aged 16-18 years old. We also called on the Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ron Huldai, to join the global trend on the subject, and to establish clear regulations that impose restrictions on the voluntary use of facial recognition technology in public spaces and urban facilities.
In the appeal, Attorneys Gil Gan-Mor of ACRI and Naama Matarasso from Privacy Israel argued that the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, Bloomfield Stadium, and Habima Theater, are beginning to use facial recognition technology for commercial and unnecessary uses, under the guise of COVID-19 regulations. The potential harm that may be caused as a result of this unregulated and illegal use of this technology outweighs the benefit of speeding up the lines at the entrances to the stadium or theater. We further argued that, based on the information provided by Habima and Bloomfield Stadium to the public of ticket purchasers, it is unclear whether they are being asked to provide sensitive, personal biometric information, and the alternatives to purchasing tickets other than through biometric identification are confusing and unclear.
The organizations also warned that the use of non-essential facial recognition technology for commercial purposes dramatically increases the risk of creating sensitive, biometric databases that could lead to discrimination of certain residents, selective enforcement, and even the disclosure of information to foreign entities. The appeal noted that "When biometric databases are hacked, the possibility of tracking us all will rise to new and frightening levels. Biometric processing, computer technology, and cameras that are currently placed everywhere, enable automatic and ongoing monitoring of people’s daily lives, granting authorities, hostile bodies, and corporations the opportunity to track our every movement in grave violation of our right to privacy."