Wednesday, December 08, 2004

More on biometrics and the workplace

The last month has been rich pickings for observers of privacy in Canada. The country's leading media outlets have had an abundance of coverage of privacy issues. Today, it is the Globe and Mail with an article on biometrics in the workplace, focusing on the use of fingerprint devices to authenticate and log users onto their systems. Or, in this case, their cash registers:

The Globe and Mail: Print scans: retail tool or invasion of privacy?:

"When Carly Johannesson takes her post at the IDA drugstore's cash register in Medicine Hat, Alta., she places her finger on a small pad that reads the fingerprint and electronically gives her access to the system.

With that simple tap, she finds herself on the front lines of one of the more contentious retailing issues: whether employers' use of fingerprint scans is another smart business tool or a move by Big Brother to gather data that some believe should remain private.

'It has tremendous potential, especially in terms of speeding up processes and internal security,' says Gary Joachim, co-owner of the Medicine Hat pharmacy, which implemented the system a few months ago. 'As employers, we're tied to a lot of confidential information from our employees, like social insurance numbers. This is just one more thing that's added to the kettle of confidential information.'

Computer users are tapping into fingerprint identification more frequently to log on to their terminals, but now the technology is arriving in the retail sector, opening up new opportunities and issues for those in the field....."

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