NY lawmakers call on MSG to stop using facial recognition software

Controversy is growing over Madison Square Garden's use of facial recognition technology to screen its guests.

The system has come under scrutiny after recent revelations that it was being used to ban attorneys who work or firms involved with pending lawsuits against MSG.

A spokesperson for MSG told FOX 5 NY that once the litigation ends, the attorneys will be welcome back, but a group of NY lawmakers is pushing back.

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"Over the last six months, we have seen extraordinary, outrageous, and alarming use of biometric technology by Madison Square Garden Entertainment," New York State Senator Brad Hoylman said. 

The group of lawmakers, which includes members of the New York City Council, state legislature, and congress displayed a letter they sent to James Dolan, the CEO of Madison Square Garden Sports, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, and executive chairman of MSG Networks.

The letter demands that MSG only use facial recognition technology for security purposes. 

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An MSG spokesperson told FOX 5 NY that they do not store data, except on those who are banned.

The lawmakers say MSG should be clear about its practices, since it receives an annual state tax abatement worth more than $40M and other benefits, like liquor licenses from the state. 

"I don't think that this is allowed under New York State Liquor Licensing, so I wrote a letter to the SLA saying ‘Pull their licenses if they continue to do this,'" said New York State Senator Liz Krueger.

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A spokesperson for MSG denied the lawmakers' claims that they maintain a large database of biometric information, and said: "Facial recognition technology is a useful tool widely used throughout the country… We have always made it clear to our guests and to the public that we use facial recognition as one of our tools to provide a safe and secure environment for our customers and ourselves." 

MSG has defended the use of facial recognition technology as being part of its security system to ensure the safety of fans and employees, but the elected officials say MSG needs to be more transparent about the use and storage of the collected data currently in its possession.