Facial Recognition Surveillance Used at Madison Square Garden: Report

“The use of such technology at sports stadiums and other large public events venues appears to be on the rise, with the operator of a major sports venue in Australia having revealed that it is planning to implement security based on facial recognition last month.”

Administrators of the Madison Square Garden event venue in New York City have been using facial recognition technology to help identify visitors, reports The New York Times.

Facial Recognition Surveillance Used at Madison Square Garden: ReportCiting anonymous sources familiar with the technology’s use, the report points to the use of facial recognition both for security and marketing purposes. While details around the program are hazy, facial recognition is presumably used to identify frequent visitors to enable targeted marketing or specialized service, and to match the faces against watch lists of known security threats. Venue administrators appeared to confirm the use of the technology in a statement reading, “MSG continues to test and explore the use of new technologies to ensure we’re employing the most effective security procedures to provide a safe and wonderful experience for our guests”; but the organization refused to go into further detail about the use of facial recognition technology.

The use of such technology at sports stadiums and other large public events venues appears to be on the rise, with the operator of a major sports venue in Australia having revealed that it is planning to implement security based on facial recognition last month. The revelation came about during a parliamentary counterterrorism inquiry, and provoked some parliamentary representatives to demand deeper consultation with government authorities about such efforts.

In the case of Madison Square Garden, it is possible that the venue’s operator is in fact working with government authorities. As The New York Times points out, the venue is situated in a central Manhattan location and rests above Penn Station, the country’s busiest rail terminal; in the long shadow of 9/11, concerns about terrorism are still paramount among the law enforcement authorities concerned with the city’s security. At the same time, facial recognition is increasingly being used in US border control, with other government authorities likely to be harboring a growing interest in the technology as well. But if any such authorities are working with MSG administrators, none involved have disclosed it.

Source: The New York Times

March 13, 2018 – by Alex Perala