Facial recognition used at 25 events in Limburg in past few months: NRC

A small festival in Limburg used facial recognition as a way for visitors to provide ID in addition to the QR code, the NRC reported on Tuesday.

Some 30% of the 2,000 visitors to the festival, held in aid of the victims of the flooding earlier this year, downloaded the app to upload personal data, a selfie and a copy of an ID, the NRC said.

Organiser Marcel van Eeghem said the app speeded up entry controls ‘enormously’ and that the tool will also be used at the opening festival of the Carnaval celebrations, which some 17,000 visitors are expected to attend.

‘It’s not something that scares people off people,’ Van Eeghem said. ’We trust the company behind the technology and follow government rules.’

Theo Breuers of Compo Software from Margraten, which supplies the facial recognition software, told the paper that some 25 events had used the software in the last months but would not say which ones ‘because local councils had a problem with it afterwards’. He would not elaborate on what the council’s objections were.

‘Facial recognition is always a problem. Every time you want to use it you have to explain what it is and why you’re doing it. Now we tell the authorities beforehand so we won’t have to explain ourselves after the fact,’ he told the paper.

Compo claims the selfie itself is not kept, only the 1,024 vectors of the face. These are encrypted and stored in a database ‘somewhere in the Netherlands’ and linked to an arbitrary number to prevent hackers from making the connection. The scan of the ID is not kept, and visitors have the option of removing all data or re-using it for the next event, he said.

Privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens is not happy about the use of the technology in the entertainment sector but would not comment on individual cases without an investigation. ‘This type of system may be convenient but should only be used when absolutely necessary,’ the AP said on its website. ‘It is best to see if other, less invasive measures can be used to achieve the same thing.’

Organisers of larger festivals, such as Lowlands and others, told the paper they are not thinking of using facial recognition any time soon. ‘We think the balance between safety and hospitality is important and using biometric data for entry purposes is not something that contributes to a nice night out or a festival atmosphere,’ Mojo Concerts marketing manager Bente Bollman told the paper.

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation