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Ticketmaster’s damage control over COVID-19 data sharing reports

Ticketmaster has been forced to clarify that it will not require concertgoers to provide health data in order to enter a show after a backlash over reports that fans would need vaccine proof or a negative COVID-19 test to attend.

The Live Nation-owned ticketing giant was forced to respond after an original report from Billboard led to concerns over mandated vaccines for music fans.

While Ticketmaster admits it is exploring the idea of using smartphones to verify if people are COVID-free, it assures fans that “there is absolutely no requirement from Ticketmaster mandating vaccines/testing for future events.”

The company released a statement following the backlash: “Unfortunately, this has been widely reported and is incorrect. Ticketmaster does not have the power to set policies around safety/entry requirements, which would include vaccines and/or testing protocols. That would always be up to the discretion of the event organiser, based on their preferences and local health guidelines.”

The plan, which was reported by Billboard’s Dave Brooks, is said to be a work in progress and depends on three separate components – Ticketmaster’s digital ticket app, third-party health information (like CLEAR Health Pass or IBM’s Digital Health Pass) and vaccine distributors.

To be clear, under the proposal Ticketmaster would not have access to medical records, and only would receive notification of whether a fan is cleared for a certain date.

Billboard said that if approved, ticket buyers would be able to verify if they have been vaccinated (good for a year) or test negative for COVID-19 about 24-72 hours prior to a concert. Labs would be instructed to pass the results to the health pass provider. However, it all depends on several steps yet to come, with FDA yet to weigh in on whether third parties can provide real-time vaccination results.

The work-in-progress solution of combining authenticated event ticketing details with personal medical verification to a ticketing platform that has on occasions had various technical issues relating to system stability and hacking will be a difficult challenge to complete, with several technical issues also facing the company. In addition, it has been said that Ticketmaster does not seem to possess the necessary API technology to deliver this solution consistently across its multiple ticketing backends, especially internationally.

Meanwhile, Cameron Hoy, managing director, global ticketing for TEG, which owns Ticketek, weighed in on the issue and told TheTicketingBusiness that the Australian ticketing firm is “actively engaged” with a number of medical technology companies regarding a range of solutions and will continue to work collaboratively with Governments before making any further announcements.

Hoy said: “However, in relation to any requirement for fans to share vaccination data, given the highly sensitive personal health information involved we believe it is premature to put forward speculative propositions that involve data of this nature before Governments and relevant health authorities have assessed and provided direction for the industry more broadly.”

The announcement follows Monday’s news that a COVID-19 vaccine was found to be 90 per cent effective, giving live events operators a boost.

Elsewhere, the Premier League is reportedly close to agreeing a blueprint with the UK Government to add Covid-19 vaccine records to a digital health passport, which may fast-track the return of crowds next year, the Telegraph newspaper reports.