AG Letitia James requests documents from MSG on facial surveillance of legal enemies

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 attendees.

The company has used technology to block lawyers from law firms with active litigation against it from attending events on its sites – which James warned could violate local and federal laws.

“We are writing to raise our concerns that the policy may violate New York Civil Rights Law and other municipal, state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination and retaliation for participating in protected activity” , she said in a letter to MSG’s lawyers on Tuesday.

“Attempts to dissuade individuals
filing discrimination claims or encouraging those in active litigation to drop their lawsuits so they can access popular entertainment events on Company sites may violate state and city laws prohibiting retaliation,” the statement added. letter.

The state’s top law enforcement official is giving MSG until Feb. 13 to provide documents justifying the practice — which it says potentially affects thousands of attorneys across about 90 companies — and explains how it doesn’t violate anti-discrimination laws.

“Discrimination and retaliation against those who petitioned the government
because repair has no place in New York,” the letter read.

Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan has a policy of barring lawyers from events if they work for companies involved in litigation against his company.

The company deployed the cutting-edge technology to identify and expel at least four attorneys from the events at MSG and Radio City Music Hall, whether or not they were directly involved in litigation against the company brought with the help of their employer. .

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

He is now sponsoring legislation that would expand an existing state law prohibiting “wrongful denial of admission” to include sporting events.

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

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

Letitia James in a blue outfit in front of a blue backdrop speaking into a microphone with a pointing finger.
State Attorney General Letitia James requests documents from MSG justifying its use
Stefan Jeremiah

A company spokeswoman did not immediately comment Wednesday on the letter formally signed by Assistant Attorney General Kyle Rapiñan of the Civil Rights Office in James’ office.

The letter argues that facial recognition software is not perfect technology, especially when it comes to accurately recognizing people who are not white men like Dolan.

“Research suggests that society’s use of facial recognition software may be plagued with biases and false positives against people of color and women,” the letter read.

New York Post

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