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Madison Square Garden Probed Over Facial Recognition Technology Use

January 26, 2023

New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a letter to Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation (MSG Entertainment) requesting information from the company and its affiliates regarding its use of facial recognition technology to prohibit legitimate ticketholders from entering their venues. MSG Entertainment owns and operates several large venues in New York, including Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, and the company has reportedly used facial recognition technology to identify and deny entry to all lawyers who are affiliated with law firms representing clients in pending litigation related to MSG Entertainment. In the letter, Attorney General James raises the concern that preventing individuals from accessing their venues because of ongoing litigation against the company could violate local, state, and federal human rights laws, including laws prohibiting retaliation. The letter also questions whether the facial recognition software used by MSG Entertainment is reliable and what safeguards are in place to avoid bias and discrimination.

“MSG Entertainment cannot fight their legal battles in their own arenas,” said Attorney General James. “Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall are world-renowned venues and should treat all patrons who purchased tickets with fairness and respect. 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.”

MSG Entertainment owns and operates several venues in New York, including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Hulu Theater, and the Beacon Theatre. In recent weeks, reports have alleged that MSG Entertainment has used its facial recognition software to identify all lawyers from firms representing clients engaged in litigation against the company and forbid them from entering their venues. This policy is estimated to impact all lawyers at more than 90 law firms. In the letter sent today, Attorney General James warns that preventing people from entering their venues may violate New York’s civil and human rights laws and may dissuade lawyers from taking on legitimate cases against the company, including sexual harassment or employment discrimination claims, in order to avoid the alleged ban and continue attending events at MSG Entertainment venues.

Attorney General James is calling on MSG Entertainment to report to her office the steps the company is taking to comply with New York’s civil and human rights laws and ensure that its facial recognition technology will not lead to discrimination.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Kyle S. Rapiñan of the Civil Rights Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Travis England. The Civil Rights Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

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