James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, has come under fire for MSG Entertainment’s use of facial recognition technology at Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. The software has been used to prevent lawyers who work for firms that are suing MSG from attending events at its venues.

A New York City Council hearing was held Friday to was held to discuss companies that have used facial recognition technology. The much-scrutinized Knicks and Rangers owner passed up the chance to testify at the hearing in the Council’s Consumer and Worker Protection Committee.

“I think it’s pretty cowardly and despicable to the process and to the Council,” City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said, reading James Dolan’s decision to no-show the hearing. “It’s a shame that someone is not here.”

Since 2021, companies in New York City have been required by law to let customers know that they are using facial recognition.

“It’s not about public safety — it’s about retaliation,” Manhattan state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal said at Friday’s hearing in regard to Dolan’s policy.

Live and breathe the NBA?

🚨 Get viral NBA graphics, memes, rumors and trending news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

Dolan has downplayed the use of the technology in multiple interviews. The Knicks owner insists that it used to keep lawyers who are suing MSG out of not the building, not fans who are critical of his ownership or the team.

“I think the answer is basically no, except if you become confrontational — confrontational with other fans, confrontational with the staff, confrontational, excuse me, with the ownership,” Dolan said on WFAN last month when asked if he would use the software to enforce bans on fans who heckle the Knicks. “And you have to be confrontational, not just say, ‘I don’t like you.’”

“Everybody’s welcome — except if you’re suing me, right?” Dolan added.

Some Knicks fans dispute this claim, asserting that they have been kept out of MSG because they criticized Dolan on social media.