Madison Square Garden CEO doubles down on his use of facial recognition technology


The chief executive of the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation has doubled down on its use of facial recognition on its sites to prevent lawyers suing the group from attending events.

Speaking to Fox 5 on Thursday, MSG Executive Chairman and CEO James Dolan said Madison Square Garden is a private company and therefore has the right to determine who is allowed into its premises for events. .

“At Madison Square Garden, if you’re suing us, we just ask that you don’t come until you’re done arguing with us,” he said. “And yes, we use facial recognition to enforce that.”

His comments come after New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a letter to MSG Entertainment on Wednesday requesting information regarding its use of facial recognition technology to bar legitimate ticket holders from entering theaters. The letter says the Attorney General’s Office has reviewed reports that MSG Entertainment used facial recognition to identify and deny entry to several attorneys affiliated with law firms involved in ongoing litigation with the company. The letter says thousands of lawyers from around 90 law firms may have been affected by the policy, and said the ban includes those who hold subscriptions.

The Attorney General’s letter raised concerns that barring people from accessing the sites due to ongoing litigation could violate local, state and federal human rights laws, including laws prohibiting retaliation. The letter also asks if the facial recognition software used by MSG Entertainment is reliable and what safeguards are in place to prevent bias and discrimination.

In a press release, James said, “MSG Entertainment cannot fight its legal battles in its own arenas. Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall are world-renowned venues and should treat all customers who have purchased tickets with fairness and respect. Anyone with a ticket to an event should not worry about being wrongfully refused entry based on their appearance, and we urge MSG Entertainment to reverse this policy.

MSG Entertainment owns and operates several venues in New York City, including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Hulu Theater and Beacon Theater. Madison Square Garden is home to the New York Knicks, Rangers, professional boxing, and college basketball teams.

In a statement Thursday, an MSG spokesperson told CNN, “To be clear, our policy does not unlawfully bar anyone from entering our rooms and we do not intend to deter attorneys from representing plaintiffs in litigation against us.We simply exclude a small percentage of attorneys only during active litigation.

“Most importantly,” the spokesperson added, “even to suggest that anyone is excluded based on the protected classes identified in state and federal civil rights laws is ridiculous. Our policy has never applied to attorneys representing plaintiffs who allege sexual harassment or employment discrimination.

In the Fox 5 interview on Thursday, Dolan said that when the attorneys suing MSG complete their litigation, they will be welcome at the scene. “If your next door neighbor is chasing you, if someone is chasing you, okay, that’s confrontation. It’s contradictory and that’s fine, people are allowed to sue,” he said. “But at the same time, if you’re being chased, right, you don’t have to take the person into your home, do you?”

Dolan defended the use of facial recognition technology, saying it’s helpful for security and noting that he thinks Madison Square Garden is one of the safest venues in the country. “Basically, every time you go out in public, you’re filmed,” he said. “Believe me, you’re walking down the street, you’re being filmed, you’re on 10 cameras. What facial recognition does is look, you know, recognize your face and say you know, are you someone on this list.

Dolan claimed the State Liquor Authority threatened MSG’s license for its use of facial recognition technology. The New York State Liquor Authority told CNN it sent a “notice letter” to MSG, after receiving a complaint in mid-November about attorneys engaged in litigation against the company that was not not allowed to enter its premises.

“After receiving a complaint, the State Liquor Authority followed standard procedure and issued a letter of advice explaining this company’s obligation to keep its premises open to the public, as required by the Beverage Control Act. liquor,” said Joshua Heller, a State Liquor Authority. spokesperson, told CNN.

SLA told CNN that an investigation into the matter is “ongoing.”

During the Fox interview, Dolan apparently threatened to halt liquor sales at an unspecified upcoming New York Rangers game, and said he would direct any disgruntled customers to the property management. alcohols to complain.

Dolan also pushed back against the suggestion that he was “too sensitive”.

“The Garden must defend itself,” Dolan said. “If you sue us, okay, you know we’re going to tell you not to come.”