Friday, February 22, 2013

Your Right to Privacy vs.Community's Security Protocol

Last week a member of my HOA's board of directors caught me out on a jog and asked me if it was legal for the guards at our entrance gate to scan in the drivers' licenses of people seeking access to our community.  Apparently, more and more associations with guard gate features are gathering this kind of information in an attempt to keep track of who is entering and exiting their premises.
Knowing exactly who has entered your community can be extremely useful information in a crisis situation; a recent situation comes to mind. A resident in our community returned from work to find that her nanny and her child were not in her home. Naturally, she became frantic when she could not locate the caregiver on her phone. The guard's log (with scanned picture ID) did show that her mother-in-law had entered the community earlier in the day and had taken the child assuming the mother knew. Crisis averted although I'm sure there was some discussion about better future communication between the two of them.
So why did the director in charge of security for our community inquire about the picture identification in the form of drivers' licenses being scanned? Well, he advised that a non-member, non-resident guest became irate when she was asked to produce her driver's license. She did so very reluctantly to gain access and then later threatened to sue as she believed her right to privacy had been violated.
Research reveals that there is a federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994 which restricts a state government from disclosing highly personal information such as that found on a driver's license without express consent. However, there are no restrictions preventing private citizens from collecting this information directly from individuals who wish to gain entry to private residential property, particularly when they are not owners of such property.
The bigger question in my mind is not whether the association can request a picture ID to enter the community from folks who don't live there (I believe they can) but it is what is done with that sensitive information after the fact.  Under Chapters 718, 719 and 720, these scanned licenses could fall under the catch-all document inspection provision as follows: "all other records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which are related to the operation of the association." The privacy restrictions upon an association's disclosure of drivers' license numbers pertains solely to members; there is no mention of securing the privacy of this kind of information related to vendors' drivers or non-member invitees who seek access to the community.
In this day and age of rampant identity theft, associations are well advised to seek a legal opinion on how sensitive information is to be gathered, stored and destroyed. 


  1. The more information communities obtain and keep, the further exposed they become to security and privacy breach potential claims. Many, if not the majority of associations, purchase no liability coverage for this exposure. And the data they are keeping is not in the most secure computers. Checking licenses is one thing but scanning and keeping the information is a liability which must be recognized.

  2. It is now illegal for gates to scan your license. FL Statute 322.143 Do not let them invade your privacy anymore.