A new biometric palm scanning device introduced at a Hungarian soccer stadium can identify a person in just one second. The device, which was introduced to control ticket sales but has the potential to help curb violence in other European stadiums, has outraged fans who are boycotting some games. Sharon Reich reports.
These palm vein scanners are at the heart of a growing row between a leading Hungarian soccer team and its fans. As supporters enter Ferencvaros's Fradi stadium, biometric identification scanners instantly determine if they are using their own club card to gain entry. By reading a person's palm, the device identifies an individual based on 5 million vein data points stored in the system. Peter Gyorgydeak, of Biosec Kft, which developed the scanner, says this may soon be used by other soccer clubs around the world. (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) MANAGING DIRECTOR OF HUNGARIAN VEIN SCANNER DEVELOPER BIOSEC, PETER GYORGYDEAK, SAYING: "This system can identify a person within one second with sufficient accuracy. In the case of the 'Fradi' [Ferencvaros] Stadium it is a novel solution because they don't need to guide crowds through a face recognition system but comfortably and securely we identify the user within one second just by placing his/her palm there." The system doesn't record any images. It works by storing an encrypted hash code of the vein structure of each fans' palms with an assigned ID number. That information is stored separately from personal data to prevent any misuse. But the scanner has some fans raising their hands in protest. They boycotted a recent game, demonstrating outside the stadium and chanting "Down with the scanner." (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) SPOKESMAN OF THE FANS WITHOUT RIGHTS MOVEMENT, BALAZS MAGYAR, SAYING: "None of the fan groups … can accept the new practice that we can only attend matches after several exaggerated security measures. We think that this goes well beyond the reasonable limits." Its designers say the vein scanner could help European soccer clubs' prevent violence among fans. But if they don't want to lose ticket sales, it seems the clubs still have work to do to score with fans.