Monday, April 12, 2010

Drinking, dancing, fingerprinting

Interesting article from Australia on clubs scanning ID and even taking fingerprints as a requirement of entry. I am aware that some clubs in England have begun scanning in photographic ID (e.g. clubs by London Bridge) but not aware of any taking fingerprints too at the same time - though the now closed SEOne club did apparently take thumbprints of people accessing smoking area. As this article implies, would you want your personal details held by club security?

'A big night out: drinking, dancing, fingerprinting' (Saffron Howden, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 March 2010)

'Somewhere in Perth's central business district is a building containing the names, ages, addresses, photographs and unique fingerprint codes of thousands of revellers who danced and drank at Sydney's Home nightclub last year. Home, in Darling Harbour, began trialling a biometric ID scanning entry system nine months ago. Patrons lined up before six large terminals to have their photo taken, and their driver's licence and right index fingerprint scanned. The information was copied and sent to Western Australia, where it is stored on a secured central database by the system developers.

While Home is the only NSW venue to use fingerprint technology at present - there are 13 nationwide - various forms of ID scanning are being quietly rolled out at other nightspots. Among them is Hotel Cremorne on the lower north shore. Since November the nightclub has required guests to submit to a photograph and ID scan as they line up on the street to enter on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights...

Not everybody is convinced ID scanning is appropriate at nightclubs. Home said NSW police suspended the club's fingerprint scanning three months ago over privacy concerns. There has also been a spike in complaints about ID scanning to the Federal Privacy Commissioner, who warned there were ''major security risks'' if companies held onto the data.

The commissioner, Karen Curtis, is investigating the issue and reviewing advice to clubs to encompass the surge in new ID-capture technologies. ''We have … anecdotally noted a general increase in complaints in recent years,'' she said. ''The majority of the complaints concern unnecessary collection of personal information and the issue of anonymity, although some also involve other issues such as security concerns and lack of notice. 'There are major security risks if organisations hold on to large amounts of personal information for lengthy periods of time, including possible identity fraud.''' (full article here)

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