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A federal judge recently dismissed a data-privacy lawsuit against Madison Square Garden (MSG) that accused the arena of unlawfully utilizing facial recognition technology to deter legal opponents. Judge Lewis Kaplan stated in a ruling that although the use of biometric data by MSG may be objectionable, it does not violate privacy laws. This decision overturned a previous recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cott to proceed with the class-action lawsuit, which alleged that MSG Entertainment and owner James Dolan were illegally using biometric data for personal gain. Kaplan disagreed with claims that MSG was profiting from collecting facial images in order to discourage future lawsuits.

James Dolan, the owner of MSG, has faced criticism for his controversial use of facial recognition software to prevent unwelcome attorneys and critics from entering the arena and its associated venues, such as Radio City Music Hall. An MSG spokesperson praised the judge’s decision, asserting that the company’s policies and practices are entirely legal and that they do not sell or profit from customer data. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two New Yorkers, Aaron Gross and Jacob Blumenkrantz, had the potential to encompass the millions of individuals who have attended events at MSG-owned venues since the city’s biometric data protection law came into effect in July 2021. This law aims to prevent businesses, including entertainment venues, from selling personal information for profit.

The lawsuit gained attention after it was first reported by The New York Post following its filing in state court in March 2023. MSG executives dismissed the lawsuit as being frivolous, with one calling it “the dumbest suit yet.” The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Israel David, did not respond to requests for comment on the judge’s decision to dismiss the case. Despite the dismissal of this particular lawsuit, the use of facial recognition technology by businesses and venues for security and other purposes continues to raise concerns about privacy and data protection. The legal battle over the use of biometric data is likely to persist as technology advances and individuals become more aware of the implications for their personal information and rights.

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