Letitia James demands facial surveillance documents from MSG

New York Attorney General Letitia James has joined the fight against Madison Square Garden Entertainment CEO James Dolan and his “dystopian” use of facial recognition software to screen contestants.

The company has used the technology to block attorneys from law firms with active litigation from attending events at its venues — something James warned could violate local and state laws.

“We are writing to raise concerns that the policy may violate the New York City Civil Rights Act and other city, state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination and retaliation for engaging in protected activities,” she said in a letter Tuesday to the MSG lawyers.

“Try to dissuade individuals
Filing discrimination complaints or encouraging individuals who are in active litigation to drop their lawsuits in order to gain access to popular entertainment events at Company venues may violate state and city laws prohibiting retaliation,” he added letter added.

The state’s top law enforcement official has given MSG until February 13 to produce documents justifying the practice – which it said potentially affects thousands of attorneys spread across about 90 firms – and how it doesn’t violates anti-discrimination laws.

“Discrimination and retaliation against those who petitioned the government
because reparations have no place in New York,” the letter said.

James Dolan spreads the side of the field during a Knicks game
Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan has barred attorneys from events if they work for firms involved in litigation against his company.
USA TODAY sports

The company has used cutting-edge technology to identify and ban at least four attorneys from events at MSG and Radio City Music Hall — regardless of whether they were directly involved in a lawsuit brought against the company with the help of their employer.

West Side Assemblyman Tony Simone was also barred from an NHL-sponsored event at MSG after he joined other Manhattan officials in criticizing the “dystopian” use of the technology.

He is now sponsoring legislation that would expand an existing state law prohibiting “unlawful refusal” at sporting events.

A sign at a security checkpoint informing visitors to Madison Square Garden that facial recognition software is being used.
MSG critics point out that facial recognition software could put people’s personal information at risk if not adequately protected.
Matthew McDermott

MSG has defended the policy, arguing that facial recognition software is widely used for security purposes and that allowing lawyers tied to external litigation could pose risks for the company.

Letitia James in a blue outfit against a blue background speaks into a microphone with a pointed finger.
Attorney General Letitia James is requesting documents from MSG justifying its use
Stephen Jeremiah

A company spokeswoman did not immediately comment on the letter Wednesday, which was officially signed by Assistant Attorney General Kyle Rapiñan of the Bureau of Civil Rights in James’ office.

The letter argues that facial recognition software is hardly a perfect technology, especially when it comes to accurately identifying people who aren’t white males like Dolan.

“Research suggests the company’s use of facial recognition software may be plagued with prejudice and false positives against people of color and women,” the letter said.

https://nypost.com/2023/01/25/ag-letitia-james-demands-docs-from-msg-about-facial-surveillance-of-legal-enemies/ Letitia James demands facial surveillance documents from MSG


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