The New York Civil Liberties Union today wrote to the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development today to urge the agency to reject a proposal to impose a fingerprint identification system for tenants at Manhattan Plaza. Under the proposal, the thousands of tenants living at Manhattan Plaza, which is a subsidized housing complex primarily comprised of people in the performing arts, would have full access of their home only if they provided their fingerprints to Manhattan Plaza management.
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU, stated that "it would be unfair and irresponsible for HPD to approve a fingerprint-identification system for tenants at this time given the serious privacy concerns raised by this proposal and the troubling lack of information that has been disclosed. The system would involve the creation of a database of tenant fingerprints, which would be vulnerable to serious abuse. HPD should not approve such a plan without a careful, detailed assessment of the actual security needs, the anticipated security benefits, the burdens on tenants, and the privacy risks."
"Here," she said, "the managing agent proposes a plan with serious privacy ramifications to address serious safety issues, but won't provide any written details. It claims that the plan would be voluntary, but penalizes tenants who don't participate. And when tenants ask questions, it says 'trust me'. Of course HPD should be concerned."
If the plan is approved, Manhattan Plaza would become the first apartment complex in New York City - if not the entire state - to require fingerprint identification for tenants to gain full access to the entrances to their homes.