Goldman installs new biometric fingerprint scanners in its New York office

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  • Goldman Sachs is installing new biometric scanners in the lobby of its Manhattan headquarters.
  • Employees say it’s unclear how far data collection will go.
  • A person with knowledge told Insider that enrollment in the bank’s biometrics program is voluntary.

A construction project to install biometric scanners in the lobby of Goldman Sachs’ New York headquarters is raising questions about employee privacy and data collection.

The project, which began earlier this month at the building’s Murray Street entrance, is accompanied by signs in the lobby announcing that a sophisticated new sweeping system in the building will soon be installed.

“No more fumbling through your bag or looking for your ID,” reads one of the signs, according to a Goldman employee.

“Your fingerprints are converted using an algorithm,” reads another panel. “Biometrics works in tandem with your Goldman Sachs ID,” says a third.

Two current Goldman Sachs employees told Insider, on condition of anonymity, that they don’t know how the new system will work and how far the bank’s data collection efforts will go.

“What are they going to take other than fingerprints? Are they going to start scanning our eyes too?” asked a nervous employee. “Why does Goldman Sachs need me more than the TSA?”

“What happens if we don’t consent? adds this employee.

A person with direct knowledge of the scanners has confirmed that they will be installed as part of a project that will run until January. Their use by employees is entirely optional, the person said, adding that those who wish to continue scanning their badges will be able to do so.

The scanners will not retain fingerprint data, according to the person, who said fingerprints will be converted to an alphanumeric representation upon registration. “No personal information is stored, period,” the person added.

Registering employees will only have to wave their hand through the turnstiles, which will speed up pedestrian traffic and reduce the risk of traffic jams. The bank is already using this technology in several of its other offices in Albany, New York; Utah; Great Britain; and India, the person added, describing the scanners as a “modernization” of facilities in a building that opened more than a decade ago.

Additionally, the systems are “hygienic and touchless,” the person added, “both at the point of registration and at the point of entry.”

Construction of 200 West Street will move in August from the building’s North End entrance to the bank’s other Plaza entrance, in a phase of the project that will wrap up in January.

“One less thing I have to bring every day”

An employee told Insider that everyone at Goldman seemed “talking about it and fed up.” But another employee pointed out that US securities law requires the bank to fingerprint people who handle money when they are hired.

“I don’t know why people are restless,” the person said. “We are all required to have our fingerprints taken when joining GS as part of the FINRA compliance process.”

ID badge scanners at Goldman’s headquarters, a lower Manhattan skyscraper that opened in 2010, are notoriously slow, this employee said. This person said the scanners have a “big lag” after swiping the badge before the entrance opens.

“Our current card readers are super slow,” the staffer said. Giving up ID cards means “just one less thing I have to bring each day”.

Returning to the office has been a flashpoint at Goldman in recent months. The company came under fire this spring for its use of identity scan data to determine who is and isn’t coming often enough, as Insider previously reported.

Internal frustrations continued to mount last month as Goldman ended a series of pandemic-era perks, including free access to the company gym, free lunches in its cafeteria and allowances for ground transportation to and from the office.

Asked about employee concerns about the new biometric scanners, the person with direct knowledge of the bank’s efforts said some employees are “dramatizing” the company’s new policies.

“We have absolutely nothing to hide here,” the person said.

Are you a Goldman Sachs employee? Contact this reporter. Reed Alexander can be reached by email at [email protected], or by SMS/encrypted Signal app at (561) 247-5758.

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