Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has responded to privacy concerns after nondescript cameras counted revellers entering Fair Day last weekend.
Photos of the camera appeared on social media after the festival’s Fair Day event in Sydney’s Victoria Park last weekend.
The boxes housing the cameras, belonging to company Tomorro, offered no other details beyond the slogan, “By observing, we’re making this event smarter”.
One Twitter user, Adrian, posted a photo on Sunday and asked for an explanation from Mardi Gras.
He said the camera amounted to “non-consensual surveillance” because there was no explanation of “where this information is going and what it will be used for.”
A Mardi Gras spokesperson said the “people-counting camera system” only recorded visitor numbers and did not record “viewable video footage”.
“Devices using non-facial-recognition technology were placed at the entrances of the event to digitally count numbers of visitors entering,” the spokesperson said.
“No viewable video footage was obtained, and the information is not used to identify individuals.”
The spokesperson said accurate numbers of visitors to Fair Day would guide future planning.
The data will help Mardi Gras “plan bar service, reduce queuing, increase toilets capacity where needed and plan infrastructure placement,” they said.
“We hear and understand the concern from our community about privacy. The information about crowd numbers we have gathered is for Mardi Gras’ use only,” they said.
“We will never share the information with third parties.”
Hi Adrian, this is just counting the number of people visiting us at Fair Day today. No other information is being collected.
— Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (@sydneymardigras) February 16, 2020
Entry cameras were ‘a one-off trial’ at Fair Day
On Twitter, one person replied, “Couldn’t have put that on the box? Or make the thing look a shitload less ominous?”
“You could have posted people at the entrances with clickers?” another wrote.
One other wrote, “Get your security guards to count patrons the old fashioned way. This is an intrusion of privacy.”
The Mardi Gras spokesperson said the camera system “was a one-off trial this year at Fair Day.”
“We do not intend to use it at any other Mardi Gras events during the 2020 festival, including the Parade and Party,” they said.
“We greatly value the feedback we get from all our festival attendees and we aim for our events to be as safe, inclusive and welcoming as possible.”
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