Madison Square Garden Is Sued Over Invasive Facial Recognition Tech

MSG Entertainment has been scanning the faces of all guests.

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Madison Square Garden Entertainment, the company renowned for its famed entertainment venues, is finding itself in hot water as it faces a federal class action lawsuit. The suit alleges that the company violated the biometric privacy ordinance of New York City and state privacy laws by employing a facial recognition system for security purposes.

M. Ross Arnel, the complainant in the lawsuit, contends that MSG covertly profited from the biometric data of visitors to its venues, which include the legendary Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. By collecting and utilizing biometric information, Arnel claims that MSG bolstered security, consequently rendering its venues more attractive to the public, which in turn led to an undue advantage.

We obtained a copy of the complaint for you here.

The lawsuit takes an interesting turn, as it further alleges that MSG utilized the facial recognition technology as a strategic tool to keep out attorneys representing individuals or entities that might have conflicting interests with MSG or its affiliates.

“The Attorney Ban, which was adopted in July 2022, states in summary that MSG and any of its venues reserves the right to exclude any litigation counsel who represents parties adverse to MSG and its related companies,” the complaint states.

M. Ross Arnel, who took legal action in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, shared his personal encounter, recounting how his face was scanned and matched against images in the company’s database during his attendance at a Madison Square Garden concert in October 2022.

The New York City Biometric Law and New York Privacy Law form the bedrock of Arnel’s legal case. The former prohibits private entities from selling or deriving profits from biometric data, whereas the latter bars the usage of an individual’s likeness for commercial gain without their explicit consent. According to Arnel, MSG has not adhered to the statutes prescribed by either of these laws.

“Once a person enters a particular venue, his face is scanned by the technology which then compares his face and facial geometry with those on file in the database in order to make a match and to identify that person,” the complaint alleges.

“Often other personal information is connected to the individual’s facial geometry or vectors, such as their names, ages, addresses, social media accounts, information contained in their social media accounts or personal information gleaned from their social media accounts and other sources.”

Arnel’s lawsuit is comprehensive in its demands, seeking a plethora of compensations and reliefs. This includes statutory damages, actual damages, exemplary damages, equitable relief, and injunctive relief. Furthermore, the claim includes attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as interest both before and after the judgment.

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