Residents near music festival “required” to wear RFID armbands

The L.A. Times has reported that people who live anywhere within a mile of the site of the Coachella Valley Music Festival in Indio, California (and perhaps residents’ visitors, if any visitors were allowed?) were “required” to wear individually numbered RFID-chipped tracking bracelets throughout the two weekends of the festival:

In 2011, the organization began using microchip-embedded wristbands….

No one can so much as get within a mile of the Empire Polo Field, where Coachella is held, without wearing one. Local residents, whose homes surround the polo field, also have to wear one just to get to their houses, and Guitron said homeowners must also register their cars….

Guitron said it created a safe perimeter for the event, where every concertgoer and resident can be identified via a microchip.

It’s not clear by whom, or by what authority, nearby residents or their guests and visitors could be “required” to wear devices each of which transmit a unique tracking ID number any time it is requested by private parties.

The festival Website explains the “requirements”, but says nothing about their legal basis:

  • “Police check points will vary from one quarter mile to one mile outside of the festival perimeter. Please have your wristbands properly applied on your wrist prior to your departure to the festival.”
  • “You cannot pass through the police vehicle checkpoints without your wristband properly applied on your wrist….”
  • “You cannot walk or bike to the festival site without a wristband properly applied on your wrist.”

According to a trade-journal review of the system being used at Coachella and some other festivals and events:

For organisers, a major benefit is receiving real-time statistics detailing how many people are in each designated area of the site at any time…. “RFID technology is ideal for an exhibition environment, or at any event where customer relationships, outreach and sales leads are sought.”… [T]he RFID micro-chips are linked to an individual ticket-holder’s information.

Will we see controls and RFID person and vehicle tracking requirements like this next year on Patriots Day for everyone who lives, works, shops, visits, attends political meetings or religious services, or passes through the area within one mile of the Boston Marathon route?

We’d be interested to hear from anyone who lives in the area in Indio in where RFID bracelets were “required”.

6 Responses to “Residents near music festival “required” to wear RFID armbands”

  1. pegr Says:

    If I were a resident, I would “have standing”, I guess. Too bad nobody will have to answer any questions as long as none of the affected parties b!tch about it. Damn sheep.

  2. Mark Geary Says:

    Perhaps there is a homeowner’s association involved?

  3. BeatTheChip Says:

    You can’t always get to everything. The one thing that slipped by this season was the matter of Coachella’s overreach into Indio, CA community by a mile, blithely “requiring” residents to wear their RFID bracelets to the annual Coachella takeover. There should have been no consequence to residents and property owners. The entertainment armband nazis were trying to be cordial to the neighboring community for the inconvenience, imposition and to get more marketing data. I think if the anti-RFID and privacy groups had jumped last year when Intellitix was adopted by giant Summer concerts in the US it would have exhibited more… care. But they didn’t budge so I let this one go. I did write a giant angry blog post on the matter in 2012. As usual, ignore me at your own risk.

    So suddenly when Intellitix pulls their scat branding manuever in REAL communities where people live, not-so suddenly 2 people in the digital privacy ranks react. Maybe next year if they get the city police on board to do armband checks vs. private security that will be enough to really catch the lawyer pants on fire. I think by then Intellitix will have made their money, will be anchored for lawyer onslaughts and would welcome the negative press. Psychopaths thrive on the wailing of little people. So do lawyers. So give it a year…

    Marketing corporations encourage themselves to entrench RFID wares. They get more bold after a time of no consequence by doing things like weaseling Indio City Council to put their armbands in the mailboxes. The organizers at Coachella could have, at minimum, invited one or two effete privacy apologists at a custom booth to remind concertgoers of their privacy rights. Maybe next year someone cool enough or paid enough from the privacy community will magically appear to work the Intellitix RFID privacy apologists Summer circuit. Otherwise the anti-surveillance workers will just let the Facebook worshippers fall on their swords while these companies rake in the profits.

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