Stadiums Queensland admits facial recognition tech trial

Stadiums Queensland has been accused of breaching the privacy of spectators at its venues after admitting to covertly trialing facial recognition technology and sharing information with the police.

The venue-management organisation has not confirmed which of the nine properties it oversees have been part of the trial. The Queensland Government announced last year it would spend Aus$8.3m (€5.3m/US$6.1m/£4.7m) on installing facial recognition technology across its major arenas.

Stadiums Queensland, whose venues include The Gabba and the Suncorp Stadium, said patrons are made aware that CCTV cameras are operated at its properties, and explained why the trials were taking place.

“At this time, such software is only being used to identify patterns and anomalies in crowd behaviour, such as abandoned bags and long queues,” a spokesperson for Stadiums Queensland told ABC News.

“As indicated in the terms of entry, ticketholders agree to being filmed by CCTV for the purpose of venue security and public safety upon entry to SQ venues.”

However, some claim that those visiting the venues should be made aware that technology is being utilised which can identify them and share their details with the authorities.

“It’s certainly something for any large-scale technology implementation like that, that we recommend,” Phil Green, Queensland Privacy Commissioner, told ABC News.

“It’s simply good practice to identify risks of conducting this sort of surveillance and using facial recognition – those risks are being identified worldwide at the moment.

“It’s been demonstrated that bias can creep in, depending on what databases you’re using and who’s in the database, and the algorithms themselves.”

Stadiums Queensland is charged with the management of major sports facilities that are declared under Queensland Government regulation as being venues having the capacity to stage national or international sports events, recreational or entertainment experiences.

As well as The Gabba, one of the world’s most famous cricket grounds, and the Brisbane Broncos’ Suncorp Stadium, Stadiums Queensland also oversees Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane Entertainment Centre and Metricon Stadium.

The organising committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games last year announced that a facial recognition system will be used at venues to enhance security during the events.

Image: Rae Allen