by John McClaughry
Last month Kelly Conlon arrived with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop to watch a performance at Radio City Music Hall, but she abruptly was denied entry. Why? Conlon works for a law firm that Radio City’s parent company had blacklisted. Conlon was found out for an even more surprising reason: the venue’s use of facial recognition technology.
Conlon’s experience, while bizarre, gives a glimpse into a future with abundant facial recognition devices—one where our personal information can be accessed and used against us at a moment’s notice.
Conlon is an attorney working for a New Jersey-based law firm which is currently involved in personal injury litigation against a restaurant owned by MSG Entertainment, the parent company which also owns Radio City Music Hall. A twist of this litigation is that the company decided that all attorneys working for law firms engaged in litigation against them are banned “from attending events at our venues until that litigation has been resolved.”
Conlon says she was identified almost immediately by a facial recognition device, and almost immediately heard over an intercom or loudspeaker, “woman with long dark hair and a grey scarf.” Security demanded her ID, told her that she had been spotted by facial recognition, she was not allowed to be there, and forced her to wait outside during the show.
Facial recognition data in government hands could lead to a staggering invasion of individuals’ most basic privacy rights.
The author, a Kirby resident, is founder and vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute. To read all EAI news and commentary, go to www.ethanallen.org.