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Attorney Kelly Conlon recently accompanied her daughter on a Boy Scout field trip to Radio City Music Hall. They were there to watch the Christmas Spectacular. Instead of seeing the Rockettes, Conlon entered a situation like something out of the twilight zone or Black mirror.
Security pulled Conlon aside, asked for her ID, and informed her she couldn’t get in. Facial recognition technology identified her as a law firm employee involved in a legal battle with Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment, the company that owns the well-known venue.
“It was pretty simultaneous for me, I think, going through the metal detector,” Conlon told NBC New York, “I heard that over an intercom or loudspeaker. I heard them say a woman with long dark hair and a gray scarf.”
Conlon said the guards told her they knew she was a lawyer as an explanation for kicking her out of the event. But while employed by the New Jersey law firm of Davis, Saperstein and Salomon — which NBC NY reports has been embroiled with MSG for years over a personal injury case that took place at a company-owned eatery — Conlon said she “not a lawyer”. that works against MSG in all cases” and doesn’t even practice in New York.
Conlon’s expulsion was not the result of overly scrupulous guards. It was in line with MSG Entertainment’s policy. From NBC NY:
“MSG has implemented a straightforward policy that prevents attorneys who are actively pursuing litigation against the company from attending events at our locations until that litigation is resolved. While we understand that this policy may be disappointing to some, we cannot ignore that litigation creates an inherently adverse environment. All involved attorneys were notified of the policy, including Davis, Saperstein and Salomon, who were notified twice,” a spokesperson for MSG Entertainment said in a statement.
Conlon’s experience, which she described as “humiliating,” only fueled the adversarial relationship between her company and MSG Entertainment.
Sam Davis, a partner at Davis, Saperstein and Salomon, told NBC NY that his company is going after the company’s liquor license.
“The liquor license MSG was given requires that they allow members of the public in,” he said, “unless there are people who would disrupt and pose a security threat.” Davis also said that MSG excluding Conlon from the event “on the pretext of protecting any disclosure of process information — is absolutely absurd.”
Facial recognition technology is controversial due to concerns about its potential for abuse. Some studies have shown that facial recognition algorithms can produce inaccurate results, especially for people with specific features such as dark skin. There are also concerns about the technology’s potential for tracking individuals without their knowledge or consent.
In addition, there are fears that the technology could be used to target certain groups or individuals discrimination or persecution.
Speaking to NBC NY, attorney Sam Davis was blunt: “The fact that they’re using facial recognition to do this is scary. It’s un-American to do this.”