Friday, August 01, 2014

GameStop Now Requires Fingerprints To Trade Games At Some Stores

In an attempt to combat crime several state and counties have created ordinances requiring pawn shops or second-hand sellers to fingerprint customers looking to sale or trade goods. According to GameSpot popular gaming retailer GameStop has taken that requirement and applied it to some of the company's Philadelphia locations.

Originally reported from CBS Philadelphia, it appears as though GameStop stores in some Philadelphia are location have started requiring that customers who wish to trade in games provide a fingerprint scan for "certain transactions." When GameSpot buys used video games from customers, the chain says it is following a local law that allows the store to collect thumb prints, which go into a database to help law enforcement track down thieves who fence stolen goods.

However, the law isn't as cut and dried as GameStop seems to be making it out to be and in fact the company may simply be acting on their own. According to City Solicitor Shelley Smith, the city has not contacted GameStop to make such collections and the nature of the company's business is such that it does not specifically have to abide by the pawnbroker’s ordinance:

“What GameStop does doesn’t meet any of the elements of the definition in the code, so the pawnbreaker ordinance doesn’t apply to GameStop.”

GameStop has issued a statement on the matter, saying the initiative was implemented at the request of local authorities and has been in place since the beginning of July.

"It's a process that we've recently implemented (starting in early July) in Philadelphia area stores at the request of the Philadelphia police department," the GameStop representative said. "[It] is a practice we've also put into place in other parts of the U.S., depending on local or statewide second-hand dealer or pawn broker laws. However, at this time we are reviewing the process to determine if it's one which should be continued in Philadelphia."

In several interviews conducted outside the local GameStop many customers voiced concerns with the new program. Customers told KYW Newsradio they were not thrilled with the company policy:
“I really don’t appreciate it. You fingerprinted me like I’m in a police district. No, I’m at a game store.”
“That is a little absurd, it’s just a video game.”
“I think it’s an overreach. It’s going too far.”
“I know that it only happens to people who go to jail, they get fingerprinted.”
“When I went, I got my finger scanned when he broke it out and said ‘I need your fingerprint,’ I said, ‘for what’?'”

The Philadelphia Police Department says the company is being proactive by storing fingerprints in a secure database – LeadsOnline – which is the nation’s largest online investigation system. This still begs the question however, if the city is not requesting the stores to meet the requirements then is this even lawful? Or should it be consider a violation of customer privacy?

We'd love to hear your feedback. Would you submit to fingerprinting in order to swap your games?

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