Sophia Road condo scans visitors’ thumbrints, IC

Sophia Road condo scans visitors' thumbrints, IC
By Geraldine Yeo & Elysa Chen

FIRST, the security guard took his identity card and scanned it into a computer.

Next,he took his thumbprint using an infrared scanner.

No, retiree Chan Hon Wah was not at the immigration counter of an airport.

The 60-year-old and his wife were at Peace Mansion, a condominium on Sophia Road, to visit a friend last month.

He said his wife's IC and thumbprint did not have to be scanned.

The security measures surprised Mr Chan.

According to several condominium managing agencies, most condos require visitors only to sign in their names at the security guard houses and provide the resident's block and unit number.

Mr Chan fears his personal information can be misused elsewhere.

In a letter to The Straits Times forum last Wednesday, Mr Chan wrote: "Given the constant reminders to watch out for potential terrorist threats, I feel that this is a loophole that allows personal data to be used for illegal activities."

Peace Mansion is at the back of Peace Centre, a shopping mall. The buildings, which do not have common lift access, come under the same management.

A check with the management revealed that the decision to put the security measures in place was taken by the condo owners.

"Six to seven years ago, there was a robbery in the building," a spokesman said.

At that time, anyone could take the lifts to the condo. But after the robbery, the management made the lifts accessible only to residents.

He said visitors are required to hand over their ICs for scanning only on their first visit.

"Subsequently, visitors are required to only have their thumbprint taken," he added.

He said the only people who have complained so far are visitors, not residents.

Checks with two lawyers showed that the scanning of ICs by condominiums is not illegal.

Lawyer Tan Hee Joek said:"When a visitor hands over his IC, there is implied consent that the person is giving it willingly."

He said visitors who are unwilling to hand over their ICs can choose not to enter the condominium, or insist on not allowing their ICs to be scanned.

"(They can) let the condominium management decide whether to allow the visitor in nonetheless," said Mr Tan.

Condos can set rules

Another lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, said condos are free to introduce their own set of rules.

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