New York Attorney General Letitia James is looking into Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s use of facial recognition technology to prevent certain people from entering its venues despite having tickets.
MSG Entertainment, which operates both Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden has a policy against allowing lawyers whose firms have sued it from entering its venues. The entertainment giant uses facial recognition of all customers to enforce that policy.
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According to James’ office, the policy and use of facial recognition might be in violation of the state’s human and civil rights laws.
“MSG Entertainment cannot fight their legal battles in their own arenas,” James said in a statement. “Anyone with a ticket to an event should not be concerned that they may be wrongfully denied entry based on their appearance, and we’re urging MSG Entertainment to reverse this policy.”
James sent a letter to MSG Entertainment informing the entertainment giant that her office was investigating whether the facial recognition it was using was reliable and had the necessary safeguards to avoid bias. The letter also asks the company to explain what it was doing to ensure the technology would not result in discrimination.
MSG Entertainment has until February 13 to respond to the letter.
A spokesperson for the company said that its policy does not illegally ban people from accessing its venues.
“We are merely excluding a small percentage of lawyers only during active litigation,” the spokeswoman said. “To even suggest anyone is being excluded based on the protected classes identified in state and federal civil rights laws is ludicrous.”
Three law firms have sued MSG Entertainment over the policy. In one of the cases, involving Hutcher & Citron LLP, the Supreme Court of New York ruled that MSG Entertainment cannot prevent someone with a valid ticket from entering its venues. However, the court rules that the company could deny whomever it wants from buying a ticket and even revoke the ticket before the event begins.
MSG Entertainment is appealing the decision.