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Major League Baseball Begins Biometric Facial Recognition Scans

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Technology developed by a company called NEC has been utilized to introduce biometric ticketing on the opening day of the 2024 Major League Baseball (MLB) season. This pilot was undertaken at four designated baseball parks, including Minute Maid Park in Houston, where it was revealed that around 6,000 eager baseball fans favored convenience and used the touchless technology for entry to the stadium.

Nationals Park in Washington incorporated the biometric tech through MLB’s Go-Ahead Entry system into their opening day proceedings. Using the MLB Ballpark app for touchless access, ballpark attendees could breeze through dedicated entrances using face biometrics enrolled via a selfie. Notably, Nationals Park has four such specialized lanes providing quick and easy access to fans who use the new system.

The Phillies are also implementing the system across the entire stadium following a trial run at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia. The year prior saw the introduction of facial recognition technology for game admission in New York for the Mets games and in Cleveland for Guardians games.

The ongoing deployment of the biometric ticketing program is managed by the league, rather than individual teams.

The introduction of biometric ticketing in MLB stadiums raises significant privacy concerns. Firstly, the use of biometrics, particularly facial recognition, for accessing events like baseball games is a step towards normalizing invasive surveillance techniques in everyday life. Unlike traditional ticketing methods, biometric data is inherently personal and sensitive. Facial recognition technology works by collecting and analyzing unique facial features to create a digital signature. This process involves the collection and storage of highly personal data, which could be vulnerable to breaches or misuse. If such data falls into the wrong hands, it could lead to identity theft, unauthorized tracking, or other forms of exploitation.

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