So, it’s not surprising that IHRSA clubs have begun to implement this sort of technology. Fingerprint and facial recognition scanners gather membership data; biometric scanners keep track of employees’ work hours; and body scanners generate 3D images to ascertain a client’s weight loss and help them achieve their muscle building goals.
While this equipment and the functions it facilitates are valuable, it’s important to note that a number of states have enacted laws to regulate the use of the data that’s generated and ensure that it’s protected. Understanding these laws is crucial to developing procedures to protect your club from potential litigation.
Defining Biometric Information
At the moment, state statutes are uniform in defining biometric data as information produced by biometric identifiers—namely, fingerprints; retina, iris, and voice scans; and scans of a person’s face and hand geography. All are unique to each person, making the ability to gather them attractive and, potentially, lucrative to businesses.
While the numerous applications and benefits are obvious, the potential risks and liabilities also need to be considered.
The very specific, personal nature of such data makes it particularly sensitive. For example, if you misplace your Social Security card, the government can issue you a new one. But there’s no equivalent remedy for the loss of biometric information, making its misappropriation a much more serious and, conceivably, dangerous matter. Furthermore, because much of this data is both visible and easily accessed, it makes people susceptible to fraud in ways that traditional identifiers don’t.
“A user’s biometric passwords are on public display every time they leave the house,” says Jane Bambauer, an associate professor of law at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona, in Tucson.
This vulnerability places considerable responsibility on club operators who choose to collect and use employee and client biometric information, compelling them to establish procedures to properly safeguard it.
The Issue Lies with Informed Consent