Bosses at Madison Square Garden and its associated venues admitted using facial recognition technology to prevent lawyers from getting into the buildings.
The aim is to identify attorneys involved in lawsuits against the New York-based company and stop them from gaining access, even if they purchased a ticket for a show. Two lawyers were confirmed to have been subject to the process.
Barbara Hart and her husband were asked to leave a Brandi Carlisle show at MSG, while Kelly Conlon was refused entry to a Radio City Music Hall show that she planned to attend with her child. While both work for companies with active lawsuits against MSG, neither was directly involved in the suits.
“MSG Entertainment instituted a straightforward policy that precludes attorneys from firms pursuing active litigation against the company from attending events at our venues until that litigation has been resolved,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “While we understand this policy is disappointing to some, we cannot ignore the fact that litigation creates an inherently adversarial environment.”
But the policy raised discussion about the use of spy technology like facial recognition. “This is the perfect example to show that these tools can be used in ways that are really alarming,” Evan Greer of Fight for the Future told Rolling Stone. “In some ways, this is kind of an innocuous case. … But the reality is that this was a corporation with what amounts to a petty grievance, using a deeply invasive surveillance apparatus in a way that left a mom sitting outside while her kid went into a concert.”
MSG maintained that “we use facial recognition as one of our tools to provide a safe and secure environment, and we will continue to use it to protect against the entry of individuals who we have prohibited from entering our venues.”
However, Hart – who correctly predicted that facial-recognition tech was being used after security said they knew who she was even though she refused to show an ID – argued that “it’s a really lousy extension of bullying behavior. … It’s power run amok. It’s baffling to me.” Referring to MSG boss James Dolan, she added, “Where can he draw the line? Can he just draw it wherever he wants?”
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