The Los Angeles Times reports that 24 Hour Fitness gyms are installing fingerprint readers to identify members and getting rid of membership ID cards. Anyone who opts out of the fingerprint identification system can show government-issued photo ID cards to enter the gyms. (Last week, I posted on fingerprint scanners that the Montgomery County Department of Recreation plans to begin using this fall.)
With gym memberships down across the fitness industry, the giant 24 Hour Fitness chain is taking a new cost-cutting approach to identifying its gym members — fingerprints.
The 428-gym chain, which issued more than 1 million plastic membership cards and key ring IDs last year, is converting to a system that identifies members by scanning the individual ridges on fingertips. […]
Discontented customers have used Web forums and blogs to sound off against it, and filed grievances with privacy advocacy organizations.
“Fingerprints come with a stigma. When you’re arrested your fingerprints are taken. There is almost an association of criminal activity with it,” [Beth Givens, director of the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego,] said.
“But a lot of people are very concerned about the Big Brother aspect of all this — that everything we do can be tracked online by companies that don’t have our best interest at heart and even hacked or misused.”
24 Hour Fitness members can opt out of the fingerprint system and instead show government-issued picture IDs when entering the centers. De La Rosa said only about 3% of patrons have chosen to do that in the gyms where the systems have been installed.
Members who do agree to go cardless have to submit to a digital scan that creates an ID number based on the ridges in the fingers. “We aren’t really storing fingerprints, just a number of points on a person’s finger that are being captured,” De La Rosa said.