Elected officials have warned Madison Square Garden Entertainment to stop using “horrible” facial recognition software to steer rival lawyers from venues like Radio City Music Hall — or risk losing valuable public support that is crucial to its bottom line.
Several local politicians said the company’s continued use of the controversial technology could jeopardize its public support — including a $43 million state tax break, a liquor license and a city permit that “expires” this year. Allowing the stadium to have more than 2500 seats.
“We are very concerned that MSG Entertainment is using facial recognition technology against its perceived legitimate enemies, which is very problematic because it has the potential to stifle free speech and access to court,” State Rep. Jerrold Nadler in a letter released on Sunday. Senators Liz Krueger, Brad Hoylman-Sigal and others elected.
“As a place of public accommodation, MSG Entertainment has a legal obligation to new
Yorkers and the public protect them from discrimination and stop harassing them,” it said.
The letter, signed by eight local, state and federal officials representing Manhattan, called on MSG Entertainment to “immediately cease using personal biometrics for non-security purposes.”
Officials say they are okay with using facial recognition software to identify threats to public safety — but not targeting them just because of their day jobs.
MSG Entertainment has used the technology on at least four occasions to block lawyers for law firms that have filed lawsuits against the company — even those not directly involved in the cases.
In the first reported incident, attorney Barbara Hart said security guards removed her and her husband from their seats at MSG ahead of singer Brandi Carlile’s performance in October. Pull up and down, and her anniversary plans are in jeopardy.
Having someone recognize her from a crowd based on a photo on her employer’s website was “a really weird experience,” Hart later told Rolling Stone, a law firm targeting a class-action lawsuit against MSG’s parent company.
Kelly Conlon, 44, was fired from Radio City Music Hall in December while waiting to see The Rockettes with her daughter’s Girl Scouts. Her name was added to a so-called “lawyer exclusion list” compiled by a firm run by James Dolan that has long been asking Gov. Kathy Hochul and Politicians such as former Gov. Kathy Hochul donated. Andrew Cuomo.
A Long Island attorney was also kicked out of a November Knicks game. A personal injury attorney from Brooklyn said he was denied his seat at the Jan. 10 Rangers game — though he wasn’t directly involved in any legal dispute between MSG and his employer.
In their letter, the politicians point out that AI-driven technology is not perfect and urge MSG to adopt a written policy outlining how it manages biometric data and then “destroy” it after it has served its purpose.
“Facial recognition technology has been shown to be inaccurate and discriminatory, and can lead to the misuse of personal biometric data without consent,” the letter said.
MSG Entertainment defended the policy in a statement.
“MSG has a straightforward policy that prohibits attorneys for companies with active litigation against them from attending events at our venue until the litigation is resolved. While we understand this policy has disappointed some, we cannot ignore the fact that , that litigation creates an inherently hostile environment,” a spokesman said.
“All affected attorneys have been informed of this policy. We continue to make it clear that affected attorneys will be welcomed back to our venues following the resolution of the litigation,” the statement added.