You can’t come in – your prints aren’t on the list.

I’m far from being a technophobe and usually need to exercise a lot of restraint when some new sexy thing is announced (except the iPad – resisting the temptation to buy something that sounds like a sanitary towel with an integrated circuit wasn’t a struggle), but I do recognise the fact that all technology boils down to tools for doing things and being a technophobe is like being intimidated by a stapler or a hammer. It’s the application of technology that bears scrutiny, and just as I’d be against stapling things to people or bludgeoning someone with a hammer there are certain technology applications that get me more than a little concerned. Almost anything governments think of nearly always rings an automatic alarm bell with me, and some of their more paranoid schemes involving biometrics appear no less worrying in the hands of companies who freely admit they intend to keep it for years and distribute it as they please.

THOUSANDS of clubbers and pub patrons are being forced to submit to fingerprint and photographic scans to enter popular venues, seemingly unaware of the ramifications of handing over their identity.

Biometric scanners, once the domain of James Bond movies, are flooding the pub market as the fix-all solution to violence and antisocial behaviour. The pubs are exerting more power than the police or airport security by demanding photos, fingerprints and ID. Police can only do it if they suspect someone of committing a crime and they must destroy the data if the person is not charged or found not guilty.

Yet one company boasts that the sensitive information collected about patrons can be kept for years and shared with other venues in the country – in what appears to be a breach of privacy laws.

Seriously, folks. What? The? Fuck?

The fingerprint scanning system takes a photograph of the patron, scans their ID and takes a fingerprint which is converted into a map of the meridian points on the print and converted into a PIN. When a patron returns, the scanner matches the meridian points of their finger to the code to find their identity. The company insists there are no fingerprints kept in the system. Patrons can request their details be deleted from the system although not if they are flagged as troublemakers.

ID Tect scanners scan identities into a database which can be shared with hundreds in the country. The system stores the data for 28 days and then it is deleted. But the troublemakers’ IDs can be kept indefinitely.

Among the drinkers scanned on entry to the Coogee Bay Hotel on Australia Day was Ben Davies, a fraud investigator from Mosman. He was ”shocked by the willingness of so many people to hand over their entire lives in this way”.

”You have to be so careful with identification details. If someone breaks into the system, that means someone could be walking around with a fake version of my driver’s licence.,” Mr Davies said.

Quite. Are people really so stupid that they don’t object to this or ask any fucking questions? Are they so lazy they don’t boycott these places in favour of venues that treat them like people? Are they really so desperate for a drink that they queue up meekly to be scanned, tagged, ringed, branded, sheared and dipped?

Baaaa. Baaaaaaaa. Baaaaaa.

And it gets worse.

There are no official checks and balances on how the data is collected, stored, used or shared. Federal Privacy Commissioner Tim Pilgrim has warned he does not have the power to audit the systems and the lack of regulation has even industry players calling for tighter controls.

The Privacy Commissioner warned that: ”Anyone using this technology should be aware that under the Privacy Act, organisations must provide individuals with notice of what will happen to the collected information. It cannot be automatically shared with other venues, even if the purpose for sharing it is the same across all the organisations.”

The Privacy Commissioner has drafted guidelines for ID scanning, which are available on its website.

NightKey fingerprint scanning system director David Wallace has called for regulation and protection of data saying ”anything bad in the industry reflects back on everybody”. NightKey has been working with NSW Police to ensure it complies with security and licensing laws. Mr Wallace said the system was audited annually. He would not reveal the audit results but said the system had been improved based on the findings.

Australasian Council of Security Professionals chairman Jason Brown said biometrics were a higher level of intrusion than just checking a licence and ”it needs to be managed, accountable, audited and subject to the same professional ethics as security and surveillance”

No, no, no, no for Christ’s fucking sake. Don’t get the fucking government invovled. For one thing it’s likely to give the bastards ideas, and for another regulation is quite unnecessary. Listen up, pubbers and clubbers. Simply – and do tell me if I’m going too fast for anyone to keep up – simply take your custom elsewhere. Look, see this lot?

NSW premises using the systems include the Australian Brewery, Lone Pine Tavern, Phriction Night Club and the Mean Fiddler in Sydney’s west; Home Nightclub, the Coogee Bay Hotel; Woy Woy Leagues Club, Woodport Inn and Munmorah United Bowling Club on the central coast; Fotheringhams Hotel in Taree; and Wollongong’s Palm Court Hotel.

Okay? Good. Now just go drinking and dancing at the nearest establishments to that lot that don’t act like fucking US Transport Security Agents. And if they all start to do it too then fuck the lot of them off and make your own Smoky-Drinky Places (© Leg-iron) instead.

The alternative is going out for a drink where quite literally everyone might know your name.

Posted on January 31, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on You can’t come in – your prints aren’t on the list..

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