A big night out: drinking, dancing, fingerprinting
March 27, 2010 - 3:00AM
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.
''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 photograph.''
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 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.''
This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/a-big-night-out-drinking-dancing-fingerprinting-20100326-r31s.html