Australia's first 3D imaging pods, set up to capture near-naked body scans and private data for fashion, are to be rolled out in shopping centres across the country, raising privacy and security concerns.
The first of the three-dimension body scanners, which act as a cyber tape measure to record body shape for tailor-made clothes, began operating in Sydney in March after a nine-month trial. Perth is included in the operator's Australia-wide plans for the pods.
For a cost, customers enter the pods, developed by mPort, provide their details and are recommended to remove all clothing, except underwear, for the full infrared body scan to record measurements usually taken with a tape measure.
That information is collected, a naked avatar is produced and the personal information is stored with the company.
Pod developer mPort managing director Dipra Ray said personal information gathered during the process was "safe" and information was encrypted to prevent hackers from breaking in and accessing private data.
"When you get scanned no one sees the avatar," Mr Ray said.
IT specialist for Radio 6PR Ben Aylett said no data storage was impenetrable and security vulnerabilities and private information were two main hacker targets.
"One type hacks for the challenge, proof of the conquest," Mr Aylett said.
"The other type [of hacker] is the one who likes to get the information and sell it on the black market.
"As soon as you throw in the date of birth, it becomes a lot more valuable.”
Mr Ray said his company would not share personal information without permission. However, he added, "we may use general data for research purposes".
While fresh reforms to the Privacy Act, which came into effect in March, have tightened the law around how businesses and government agencies collect, store and use personal information, the changes do not prevent the “general use” of personal information.
“The amendments also introduce new restrictions around the use of personal information for direct marketing purposes," he said.
“A business which discloses general and anonymous data about its customers will not be in breach of the law even if that data relates to the personal information of the customers - such as the age, health or physical characteristics.
“This is because the Privacy Act only regulates the disclosure of information “about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable.”
Businesses which do not comply with the new laws face penalties of up to $1.7 million.
Individuals whose personal information is collected have the right to know what information is held and the right to change or correct that information if necessary.
Mr Ray said about 4000 people had registered during the trial with 80 per cent completing their scan details.
The pod has a partnership with a Sydney-based "e-tailoring" menswear business which receives the information and makes clothes designed to order.
Mr Ray said pods were scheduled to be rolled out in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria and there were interested parties in Perth.
"Perth is definitely on the horizon," he said.
"We need to find the right space for it."
Full body scanners came under public scrutiny in 2012 prior to their installation at all Australia's eight international airports in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and the Gold Coast.
The airport scanners use non-ionising millimetre-wave technology, similar to that emitted by mobile phones.
The scanning pods for fashion use infrared technology, similar to that used by television remote controls.
To allay privacy issues around what of the body could be viewed, privacy enhancers were a requirement of their use.
According to the developer's website: "The booth does not use any microwave or penetrative scanning, making it safe even for people with pacemakers or other implants."
The story Privacy fears as naked 3D body scanners roll out in Australia first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.