Orlando FL Nov 8 2018
If you live in a gated community or visit someone who does, you’ve probably noticed a new trend: security guards being replaced by virtual gate guards.
These virtual guards require you to insert your driver’s license before you can enter the communities.
They’re meant to keep residents safe but is this new type of security putting your information at risk?
The NBC2 Investigators went to Sandoval, Reflection Isles, Cypress Landing, Devonwood Estates, and Greens Edge at Province Park. At the entrance of each gated community, we were met with the same greeting.
And when we refused to insert an ID, we were denied entry.
“It’s a community requirement,” said one virtual guard. “It’s a private community,” another virtual guard said. “If you don’t want to scan an ID, I can’t let you in.”
The Florida Legislature passed a law in 2013 that says, “a private entity may not swipe an individual’s driver license or identification card, except for the following purposes:
(a) To verify the authenticity of a driver license or identification card or to verify the identity of the individual if the individual pays for a good or service with a method other than cash, returns an item, or requests a refund.
(b) To verify the individual’s age when providing an age-restricted good or service.
(c) To prevent fraud or other criminal activity if an individual returns an item or requests a refund and the private entity uses a fraud prevention service company or system.
(d) To transmit information to a check services company for the purpose of approving negotiable instruments, electronic funds transfers, or similar methods of payment.
(e) To comply with a legal requirement to record, retain, or transmit the driver license information.”
“These people that are using our driver licenses in this way are doing it in a way that the legislature didn’t intend,” said Fort Myers attorney, Scot Goldberg.
When asked if the virtual gate guards were breaking the law by requiring IDs, Goldberg said yes and no.
“One of the things in the statute that allows them to do it is if you give consent,” said Goldberg. “But they’ll just say if you don’t want to come in, don’t put your driver’s license in. If you want to come in, you’re giving us your consent and we’re going to use it, and we’re going to have your information.”
So what do the residents of these gated communities think about this new kind of security? We got mixed opinions.
“I don’t think it’s a good practice to do that,” said Charles Andrade.
“I’m okay with that as long as they’re keeping the information private,” said Paul Fuentes.
“I just think that there should be a way to have us enter the community without forcing people to enter their ID,” said Nicole Campbell.
All of these virtual security guards are owned by the same Florida-based company, Envera Systems.
Envera would not do an on-camera interview, but spokesperson Crystal Clark sent us the following statement:
“Envera’s Virtual Gate Guard system with driver’s license scanning does not utilize any technology that captures information off of magnetic strips or bar codes. The license scanners that we employ take a snapshot (an electronic photocopy or scan) of the front of the license in order to cross reference the name and picture of the person sitting at the kiosk with the registered residents and visitors of a specific community.”
As far as where your personal information is going, Clark said “Envera is not violating the state law because we never compromise or take information from the magnetic strip or bar code. Additionally, we have agreements in place with each community that we service stating that the information is private and will never be sold to a 3rd party.”