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ICO orders Serco Leisure to stop using facial recognition technology to monitor attendance of leisure centre employees

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered public service provider Serco Leisure, Serco Jersey and seven associated community leisure trusts to stop using facial recognition technology (FRT) and fingerprint scanning to monitor employee attendance.

The ICO’s investigation found that Serco Leisure and the trusts have been unlawfully processing the biometric data of more than 2,000 employees at 38 leisure facilities for the purpose of attendance checks and subsequent payment for their time.

They failed to show why it is necessary or proportionate to use FRT and fingerprint scanning for this purpose, when there are less intrusive means available such as ID cards or fobs.

Employees have not been proactively offered an alternative to having their faces and fingers scanned to clock in and out of their place of work, and it has been presented as a requirement in order to get paid. Due to the imbalance of power between Serco Leisure and its employees, it is unlikely that they would feel able to say no to the collection and use of their biometric data for attendance checks.

The ICO has now issued enforcement notices instructing Serco Leisure and the trusts to stop all processing of biometric data for monitoring employees’ attendance at work, as well as to destroy all biometric data that they are not legally obliged to retain. This must be done within three months of the enforcement notices being issued.

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