In 2010, the San Francisco Police Department came up with an idea that they felt would help keep nightclubs safer. They wanted owners to be required to install security cameras and keep identification scanners on the premises. This technology allows owners and bouncers to root out fake ID cards more often and keep under-aged minors out of the club scene. In addition, the system also stores information for up to 15 days.
Police say that card scanning solutions would make this personal data available to law enforcement by request, making it easier to capture criminals and establish a time frame for crimes committed.
Beyond data storage, once the club has your information there are few safeguards in place for consumers that protect that information from outside intrusion. That’s something the FTC is actively working to change with legislation like its recent advancements in health technology. New oversight would make sure that owners could not abuse information collected from ID scanners, and require them to register with a state’s consumer affairs bureau to be on public record.
In addition to protecting people, there is the risk of identity theft. These machines currently mine more than enough information about you to commit identity theft. If legislation like this becomes common place, and venues are required to supply scanners and check ID’s, it will be up to civic leaders to find solutions that protect consumers and business entities.
After a group of shootings occurred in 2010, critics of San Francisco’s Entertainment Commission met to raise concerns of personal safety. ID scanners already help law enforcement identify individuals and discover outstanding warrants. Scanners can help owners identify potential threats, ban them from the venues and relay information to the police.
How it Works
The owners of two nightclubs: Karma and Epic, recently adopted a high profile security scanning system to curb any potential criticisms of a new venue the owners were building. The system would look at the ID of an individual, ping that information against a criminal database, then return the results within seconds. All the bouncer has to do is slide an ID card through the scanner and the rest is done behind the scenes.
For most people, the scanner reads their IDs and verifies age. As soon as the bouncer knows the patron is who he or she claims to be, and is old enough to enter the club, entry is permitted. Get into a fight or cause trouble at those clubs and you’ll be banned.
If you’re banned from Karma, say the owners, you’ll be banned from Epic too. The system will learn who you are and teach the bouncers to deny you entry based on past incidents.
Is the system designed to catch predators?
Not really, says booking manager Beecher Vaillancourt. “Hopefully the word will spread and there’s just going to be less messing around downtown,” he said. The initiative is proactive so the company doesn’t really know if it will provide the most effective means of security for their clubs, but they are willing to try.
It’s fairly common to be asked for ID when entering a club, but it’s becoming increasingly common to submit to a scanning.