One Major New York City Tourist Attraction Now Implementing Facial Recognition Tools

Madison Square Garden in New York City will begin using facial recognition software to monitor everyone who enters and exits the venue.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation has doubled down on using facial recognition. Executive Chairman and CEO, James Dolan says the technology will be used to refuse entry to attorneys handling lawsuits against its properties. Speaking to Fox 5, he said since MSG is a private company it is allowed to determine who will have access to its venues for events.

“If you’re suing us, please don’t come until you’re done with your argument,” Dolan told the publication. “And we’re using facial recognition to enforce that.” His comments were in response to a letter from the New York Attorney General requesting information about the technology being used to prohibit legitimate ticketholders from entering Madison Square Garden venues.

The letter said there have been several reports indicating that Madison Square Garden used facial recognition to identify and deny entry to multiple attorneys from 90 law firms. The controversial policy also affected those holding season tickets. As such, Attorney General Letitia James said the entertainment venue may be in violation of local, state, and federal human rights laws.

Questions over the software’s reliability have also been raised, along with what safeguards are in place to avoid bias and discrimination. “MSG Entertainment cannot fight their legal battles in their arenas,” James said via CNN Business. She added that Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall are world-renowned venues and should treat all ticket holders with fairness and respect.

“Anyone with a ticket to an event should not be concerned that they may be wrongfully denied entry based on their appearance,” James continued. Therefore, the Attorney General is urging Madison Square Garden Entertainment to reverse its policy. In a statement to CNN Business, a spokesperson for MSG Entertainment said the policy does not unlawfully prohibit anyone from entering its venues.

“It is not our intent to dissuade attorneys from representing plaintiffs in cases against us,” the representative said. “We are merely excluding a small percentage of lawyers during active litigation.” To even suggest anyone is being excluded from Madison Square Garden events based on the protected classes identified in state and federal civil rights laws is ludicrous.”

According to Dolan, the policy has never applied to attorneys representing plaintiffs who allege sexual harassment or employment discrimination. He told Fox F that when the attorneys suing Madison Square Garden finish their litigation, they will welcome back to its venues. The CEO also pushed back at the suggestion that he’s being too sensitive.

“Madison Square Garden has to defend itself,” he said. “If you sue us, you know we’re going to tell you not to come.” Still, the Madison Square Garden policy does seem a little extreme. Last October, Barbara Hart, and her husband were removed from the venue while approaching their seats for a Brandi Carlile concert. They bought the tickets to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Hart told NPR, said the guards identified her without seeing her ID card. She believes facial recognition technology was used to match her face with an image taken from her company’s website. Despite not working on the case, the lawyer says she was targeted because her firm is engaged in a lawsuit against Madison Square Garden Entertainment.