The Philadelphia Phillies is set to be the next Major League Baseball team to implement a facial recognition program that officials are calling the “ultimate hands-free, free-flow experience” for entry to Citizens Bank Park.
The team is trying out the facial Rec system at its first base gate with the stated intention of speeding up the time it takes to get fans into the park, according to Axios.
The league itself is sponsoring the program, according to The Hill.
The system uses cameras to take photos of fans entering the park and compares the photo to the photo fans have supplied ahead of time, which creates a “unique numerical token,” the league said. Once the system recognizes the fan, their ticket is automatically registered, and they can walk right it without stopping to show tickets or deal with gatekeepers.
”No need to stop or even get a phone out,” an MLB statement reads. “Fans can now enjoy the ultimate hands-free, free-flow experience entering the ballpark with their eyes up.”
The feature is available for fans aged 18 and up and can be opted out at any time, the Phillies added.
Still, the system did not work as advertised for the team’s Aug. 22 game. The cameras began accidentally picking up unregistered fans and registering them as paid, a breakdown that forced gatekeepers to set up a segregated lane just for facial rec customers — which sort of defeats the system’s stated purpose.
The Phillies are not the first team to launch the facial rec system. The New York Mets have already been using the system at Citi Field.
Facial Recognition systems, though, have come in for criticism from several directions.
Firstly, these systems seem prone to misidentifying black people and people otherwise with darker complexions. Facial Rec systems have frequently been unreliable for police departments, which have been found arresting the wrong people based on faulty results.
Secondly, privacy activists worry that storing millions, if not billions, of images of people’s faces, can lead to rampant acts of invasion of privacy and illicit government surveillance. Recently, the IRS was forced to abandon a facial Rec program after a backlash ensued.