Concerns Raised as Major League Baseball Tests Facial Authentication for Ticketless Entry

Source: FOX29

Major League Baseball (MLB) is piloting a program called Go-Ahead Entry, a facial authentication-based system allowing ticketed fans a hands-free entry into the ballpark.

MLB and the Phillies have launched the Go-Ahead Entry program to supposedly streamline the entry process for fans. The program uses facial authentication technology to allow ticket holders to gain entry by simply walking past a facial scan camera.

“MLB’s Go-Ahead Entry technology uses a camera that will recognize any opted-in fan as a registered member as they walk in – either alone or with their group – automatically scanning tickets once identified. No need to stop or even get a phone out. Fans can now enjoy the ultimate hands-free, free-flow experience entering the ballpark with their eyes up. Just skip the line and be ready to enjoy the game,” according to the press release.

Go-Ahead Entry requires fans to register through an app, upload a selfie, and then gain entry through facial recognition technology at the gates.

Karri Zaremba, MLB’s senior vice president of product, says the tokens are “not connected to any type of security system.” The MLB insists that these images are instantly deleted and converted into unique numerical tokens.

“That’s part of the reason it’s taken us a long time,” Zaremba said. “We wanted to be very thoughtful and considerate in our approach. We wanted to make sure that fans were comfortable. It’s a completely optional service. No one has to use this. But if they want a faster, more frictionless experience to enter the ballpark, then we wanted to offer them a way to do that.”

However, the system raises legitimate concerns about how data could be stored, shared, or hacked in the future. With the rise of cybercrime and data breaches, such a cache of biometric data poses an irresistible target for hackers.

Both MLB and the Phillies claimed that their facial authentication system was not the same as facial recognition.

“This is not scanning a crowd looking for people,” said Phillies vice president and chief technology officer Sean Walker. “This is determining if a person is authenticated. We’re not tied to any law enforcement. There’s certainly no sharing of the data. It’s simply to get you into the ballpark. It’s not facial surveillance.”

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