Nightclubs across Sydney have been using ID scanners at entry points their venues, much to the annoyance of a considerable amount of patrons who are unhappy with scanning of their ID becoming a condition of entry.
Under the Privacy Act, businesses should only collect information necessary for conducting their business, but many feared that these machines could open up serious opportunities for fraud to be perpetuated and privacy breaches to occur.
But legislation that was passed in 2013 and came into effect this year means that a government initiative has now seen this measure become compulsory for some business owners.
The changes were introduced to the Liquor Act 2007, and became effective in June.
Scanners capture and store personal information from high-risk venues to a “Kings Cross precinct ID scanner system.”
The image on the photo ID is captured, along with the name, date of birth and address.
A high-risk venue is one where alcohol is sold for consumption on the premises, where they are authorised to trade after midnight and have a patron capacity of over 120 patrons.
Any venues which are deemed high-risk must scan their patron’s photo identification. They must refuse entry to anyone who cannot or will not produce ID.
The scanners have been introduced in 35 venues in Kings Cross.
The information is held for 30 days and the scanners must operate from 9pm until 1:30am.
Producing fake ID to get entry into a high risk area carries a maximum fine of $5500, and attempting to enter a venue while under a ban can also carry the same fine.
These scanners have been instrumental in police identifying suspects and pressing charges - an indecent assault and two glassings being three of the most recent examples.
Local Area Commander Supt Michael Fitzgerald has also reported a decrease in handbag and phone thefts at various venies.
The ID scanners are also effective at keeping those who have been banned from the area away.
There are currently 92 people who are the subject of long-term banning orders.
Police even have an app that allows them to record the details of patrons who receive banning orders.
They can be entered on the spot and will be instantly flagged at other venues.
Although ID scanners have only been in place for a few months, they have been so far heralded as a success.
There will be a review after 12 months but it appears that so far they are working.
This measure appears much more successful than the lockouts at eliminating troublemakers from licensed venues
But while the police are happy with the introduction of the system, many others are not.
Some smaller venues with a capacity of just over 120 people feel like they are losing out – saying that groups of patrons will sometimes have to be turned away because one of them doesn’t have ID, despite clearly being over 18.
The operating cost of the scanners is also prohibitive, costing about $2000 a week to run, after the machine costs, which are about $45,000 each plus software.
Some have also raised concerns that the machines could compromise the privacy of patrons, even potentially exposing them to identity theft, although the government states that the database will be encrypted and that information is not accessible by staff, only police.
ID scanners may be instrumental in solving crimes, but do you think that stamping out crime takes priority over the tracking and potential monitoring of law abiding citizens as well as burdening smaller venues with huge costs?
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