NBC News is reporting that Madison Square Garden used facial recognition surveillance to identify and stop a mom who was attending the iconic Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall with her daughter, a literal girl scout. The mom was then thrown out of the venue, because she works for a law firm that is engaged in litigation with Madison Square Garden’s parent company. Unreal.
“This is exactly why we need an outright ban on all use of facial recognition surveillance in places of public accommodation like bars, restaurants, retail stores, and music and sports venues,” said Evan Greer (she/her), director of Fight for the Future, “There are just so many ways that biometric surveillance technology can be abused to discriminate and put people in danger. Madison Square Garden should immediately stop using this invasive, harmful technology, and lawmakers should act to ban this practice for good.”
Madison Square Garden is one of the only venues in the country known to be using controversial facial recognition surveillance technology. In recent years, Fight for the Future and prominent musicians like Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine led campaigns that got more than 40 of the worlds largest music festivals to say they won’t use facial recognition at their events. Ticketmaster also cut ties with a facial recognition startup after the backlash. And recently Red Rocks, the music venue in Denver, dropped their partnership with Amazon’s palm scanning devices.
Controversy around facial recognition has also led dozens of universities, and well known retail brands like Wal-Mart and Target to say they won’t use the tech. Madison Square Garden is somewhat isolated as a brand in not only using facial recognition tech but using it to target their critics. This is why this technology should be banned in all places of public accommodation, like the city of Portland, OR did with this ordinance. That ban should be recreated at the Federal level, and made a norm globally.
Banning government and law enforcement use of facial recognition is not enough. Fight for the Future explains the need for a ban on private and corporate use of facial recognition here.