February 26, 2021 08:48
A growing number of private businesses require biometric authentication from customers, which has led to complaints of privacy invasion.
Biometric data are difficult to fake but also tell businesses far more than they need to know about a customer. Bars, convenience stores and ski resorts have been collecting biometric information of customers who register on to track any coronavirus infections. But many of them have failed to offer any alternative to customers who refuse and simply turned them away.
The Vivaldi Park Ski Resort in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province introduced a new biometric identification system last December requiring season ticket holders to verify who they are by the patterns of blood vessels in their fingers. A staffer at the resort claimed it was an "essential" way of checking the ID of customers without making face-to-face contact with them.
Now other ski resorts are using the same method.
Since August of last year, biometric information has been classified by law as "sensitive information" that needs to be stored with care and can only be gathered with the consent of customers. But many businesses give customers no alternative other than to take their business elsewhere.
Many university dormitories, apartments and other residential facilities now also demand biometric information from visitors.
One dormitory resident at Seoul National University said, "I have to have my hand scanned on entering the building and gave my consent. It's convenient since I don't have to worry about losing my access card. But the machine has trouble recognizing me when I drink alcohol or when the weather is really cold."
There are also concerns of biometric information being leaked. Lim Jong-in at Korea University said, "We can't stop the spread of biometric identification, but businesses should refrain from excessive collection and give customers other options. Consumers should also become more wary of providing such sensitive information and take control."
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