A mother of a Girl Scout was kicked out of Radio City Music Hall after the venue's facial recognition system identified her as a member of a law firm in litigation with Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment—which also manages Radio City Music Hall.
Kelly Conlon accompanied her daughter's Girl Scout field trip along with other troop members and their moms to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular in New York City the weekend after Thanksgiving, but she was denied entry.
Conlon, who said she was posing no threat, recalled how swiftly security swooped in and pulled her aside.
She told NBC New York:
"It was pretty simultaneous, I think, to me, going through the metal detector, that I heard over an intercom or loudspeaker."
"I heard them say 'woman with long dark hair and a grey scarf.' "
Facial recognition technology, or FRT, is rapidly becoming a method of surveillance that is causing privacy and exploitation concerns, and this is one of many recent examples.
A sign inside the theater lobby informed patrons that facial recognition was being used as a security measure "to ensure safety for guests and employees."
Conlon told the news station security asked her to provide her name and identification.
She was also informed she was "picked up" by the facial recognition system and was blacklisted because she was an attorney tied to MSG Entertainment–which owns the venue located within Rockefeller Center.
"They knew my name before I told them. They knew the firm I was associated with before I told them."
"And they told me I was not allowed to be there."
You can watch NBC's news report, here.
MSG's Facial Recognition Stops Mom From Attending Christmas Show With Child | NBC New Yorkyoutu.be
Conlon is an associate with the New Jersey-based law firm Davis, Saperstein and Solomon.
For years, the firm had been involved in personal injury litigation against a restaurant venue that is under the umbrella of MSG Entertainment.
"I don’t practice in New York. I’m not an attorney that works on any cases against MSG."
A spokesperson for MSG Entertainment issued the following statement:
"MSG instituted a straightforward policy that precludes attorneys pursuing active litigation against the Company from attending events at our venues until that litigation has been resolved."
"While we understand this policy is disappointing to some, we cannot ignore the fact that litigation creates an inherently adverse environment."
"All impacted attorneys were notified of the policy, including Davis, Saperstein and Salomon, which was notified twice."
Sam Davis, Conlon's law partner at the firm where she works, commented on the situation.
"This whole scheme is a pretext for doing collective punishment on adversaries who would dare sue MSG in their multi-billion dollar network."
MSG Entertainment noted that:
"In this particular situation, only the one attorney who chose to attend was denied entry, and the rest of her group–including the Girl Scouts–were all able to attend and enjoy the show."
Conlon said she was forced to wait outside and that it was:
"Embarrassing, it was mortifying."
In response to MSG Entertainment's strict use of facial recognition, which he said was "un-American," Davis proposed to challenge their license with the State Liquor Authority.
"The liquor license that MSG got requires them to admit members of the public, unless there are people who would be disruptive who constitute a security threat."
"Taking a mother, separating a mother from her daughter and Girl Scouts she was watching over—and to do it under the pretext of protecting any disclosure of litigation information—is absolutely absurd."
"The fact they’re using facial recognition to do this is frightening. It’s un-American to do this."
According to Liberties, one of the many concerns regarding FRT is improper data storage.
The website indicated:
"The biggest problem resides in the fact that no security system is airtight."
"Imagine there is a database with your photo or your address. If the database gets hacked and a malicious person gets access to it, they could use it for identity theft, robbery or harassment purposes."
Another concern was FRT's potential to become "a biometric mass surveillance tool" to infringe on freedom of speech and association.
"Surveillance, especially in the case of demonstrations, muzzles freedom of expression and chills activities such as political activism."
The MSG spokesperson reiterated how safety was their highest priority and that using the facial recognition tech was just one of the methods.
The company additionally confirmed the policy was in compliance with all applicable laws–including the New York State Liquor Authority.