NEW YORK (PIX11) — Lawmakers and privacy advocates are calling on James Dolan, owner of Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, to stop surveilling guests for non-security purposes.

The venues currently employ facial recognition technology to prohibit attorneys who work at law firms actively litigating against Madison Square Garden Entertainment 

“If you work for a big law firm, you better think about where you’re going,” said State Senator Liz Krueger, one of several lawmakers at a Sunday press conference outside of Madison Square Garden.

Back in October, Larry Hutcher, who has owned New York Knicks season tickets for nearly 50 years, sued Madison Square Garden Entertainment. Hutcher claimed that he and nearly 60 lawyers from his firm were barred from the company’s properties.

“There is a pattern of James Dolan punishing who he views as his corporate adversaries – attorneys who are employed at law firms that have active lawsuits against MSG entertainment,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. 

Since June 2022, MSG Entertainment has used facial recognition to prevent attorneys from attending events if they work for law firms suing MSG. 

“To use this technology to settle petty beefs is just a ridiculous, ridiculous use of this technology, use of this facility and frankly, through tax breaks, use of the taxpayers’ dollars,” said State Assembly Member Alex Bores. 

It’s not just impacting attorneys who are actively involved in the suit.

“A mother who was at a show with her kid at Radio City had to spend two hours walking around in the cold because security wouldn’t let her in,” said State Assembly Member Tony Simone, who said the mother worked for a law firm that was actively litigating against MSG. “She wasn’t even part of the lawsuit. This is ridiculous.” 

In a statement to PIX11 News, a spokesperson for MSG Entertainment said: 

“MSG instituted a straightforward policy that precludes attorneys from firms 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 adversarial environment. All impacted attorneys were notified of the policy. We continue to make clear that impacted attorneys will be welcomed back to our venues upon resolution of the litigation.”

MSG said it is complying with all laws, but Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is reportedly investigating if the policy violates intellectual property laws, and Sen. Krueger said the State Liquor Authority is debating whether or not it can pull MSG’s liquor license. 

Lawmakers are also considering city and state bans on facial recognition in public accommodations. 

“You’re not allowed to discriminate in public accommodations,” said Albert Fox Cahn, the founder of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. “You’re not allowed to discriminate at a hotel or a restaurant or at Madison Square Garden. So why should you be allowed to use discriminatory technology? It’s wrong, and it should be stopped.” 

Lawmakers are also calling on MSG Entertainment to delete whatever personal data is collected through AI technology. MSG said it only retains images of individuals who are prohibited from entering or have been deemed a security threat. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.