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international news _ 14th June, 2006

Biometric Clubbing Coming to London?

Text by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

Revellers visiting the Black Sheep bar in Croydon will soon be forced to hand over their personal details and be finger-printed under a new scheme which the Standard predicted this week could soon spread across London bars and clubs.

Bar owner Paul Bossick justified printing his customers on security grounds, and laughed off civil liberties issues to the concern of Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti.

"Publicans are right to want to protect their customers from drunken thugs but treating us all as criminals is hardly the answer," she told the Standard, "Deal with those who actually misbehave and don't make everyone's night in the pub feel like a night in the nick (cells)."

A similar scheme is currently being promoted in New York by surveillance company AS Communications and Security, whose 'biobouncer' facial ID club product was recently branded 'creepy' by the Village Voice. Writing on their corporate website, the company predicts biometric entry schemes could proliferate at clubs across the USA, creating instantly accessible national databases excluding undesirables from all clubs and bars.

"It's no secret that nightclub violence has been on the rise lately. It has resulted in horrific injuries and deaths, bad media attention, and lost business. Once a club develops a reputation for having a dangerous crowd, the good customers start going elsewhere," the site warns.

"These dangerous individuals have broken club policy in the past and are not welcome anymore. Maybe they are known to carry a weapon, have been removed for violence, or have violated the club's illicit drug policy."

Pet Shop Boy singer Neil Tennant, meanwhile, kept up his crusade against compulsory ID cards in the UK this week, telling Vanity Fair 'we can't live in a total surveillance society."

"My specific fear is that we are going to create a society where a policeman stops me on the way to Waitrose on the Kings Road and says 'Can I see your identity card' I don't see why I should have to do that."