24 Hour Fitness now wants to scan your fingerprints

SACRAMENTO — The 24 Hour Fitness chain of athletic clubs is rolling out a cardless entry system in which members scan an index finger at the front desk to gain entry.

It's fast. It's easy. And no one has to keep a plastic card around.

But before giving out information like a fingerprint, it's important to ask how it's going to be used and what will happen to it, said Ed Imwinkelried, a law professor at the University of California, Davis.

"People have to be very careful about privacy rights and anytime someone asks them for identifying information – an image of an iris, a Social Security number or biometric information such as fingerprints – they ought to know exactly what they're going to do with it," he said.

At 24 Hour Fitness, the entire fingerprint isn't actually scanned; random points on the print are recorded and then assigned a unique number, said regional vice president Troy Croghan. And the company never sells member information, he said.

Although the new system is optional, 97 percent of members who have been asked have signed up, Croghan said.

"For a majority of our members, this has proven to be an easier way to gain access to the club," he said.

Croghan also touted the increased security with the elimination of lost or stolen membership cards, as well as the green benefits of no longer depending on plastic cards.

But Matthew Sturdevant, 39, of Citrus Heights, will continue using his membership card and photo ID to get into the 24 Hour Fitness facility on Sunrise Boulevard in Rancho Cordova.

"You shouldn't have to give your fingerprint to work out," he said. "I'm not Orwellian, but I think there should be some anonymity in the world."

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