[LINK] SMH: A big night out: drinking, dancing, fingerprinting
jon.seymour at gmail.com
Sat Mar 27 06:29:21 EST 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
''It did kind of creep me out, made me feel like a criminal,'' a
regular attendee, Julia Robertson, said. ''[But] I think it does make
me feel safe. If some creepy guy comes in, they've taken their
Queensland's ID-Tect installed its first ID scanning system in NSW in
2006, but now has hundreds in drinking establishments across the
country - and thousands of individuals on its centrally stored ''ban
list'' accessible to any client.
The effect on pub violence had been dramatic, the chief executive of
ID-Tect, Peter Perrett, said.
''People don't really have much respect for CCTV these days. When you
see it on the telly, it's grainy,'' he said. ''[But] with our system,
they can see what happens on CCTV [and] line that up with the picture
taken of them at the door.''
If an individual is not on the ''ban list'', their information is
deleted after 28 days. If they are, it can be stored indefinitely, and
appear when visiting another pub in another city, or even state.
''It will pop up and show a photograph of the person, what place
banned them, what for, and who imposed it,'' Mr Perrett said.
There were only half a dozen idEye units - at an average set-up cost
of $9000 - in Sydney venues, but they were more prevalent in other
states, where their success had been overwhelming, he said.
''Even people that might be inclined to misbehave, don't.''
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
''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.''
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