Secret agent-style fingerprint scanners are being used – in a tanning salon.

Hundreds of people using The Tanning Shop in Western Road, Brighton, have been asked to provide copies of their fingerprints when they want to top up on their tan.

Privacy campaigners called the move “absurd”.

Operators of the shop maintain the scheme is completely legal, adding that it was being “responsible” so users could not tan more than once every 24 hours.

One user, who did want to be named, said: “I do not see the sense behind it to be honest.

“I have never had to give my fingerprints ever, not even when I got a passport. It’s just stupid.”

The firm, which runs the system across nearly 60 shops in the UK, told customers the technology was to “protect your minutes and yourself from tanning within the normal 24-hour restriction between sessions”.

All new customers are asked to provide four separate scans of their fingerprints.

The firm said the image then goes through one-way encryption and is stored securely as a text document.

In a written statement, it added “it is not possible to convert the text data back into a fingerprint”.

The firm said all clients had the option to opt out of the biometric system by writing or speaking to a member of its head office team where account access was restricted.

Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “This is a tanning shop, not a maximum security spy base. It is an absurd use of technology that is intended to track people’s behaviour.”

Chelle Lahmers, of The Tanning Shop, said the system complied with the Data Protection Act.

She said: “We are dedicated not only to the promotion and application of responsible tanning practices, but committed to preserving the integrity and security of client accounts in full compliance with current legislation.

“The use of biometrics is not only applied as a matter of account access restriction, but to ensure that clients are not able to tan more than once in a 24 hour period.

“The majority of clients embrace not only the convenience of this access method but the account security that it affords them.”

What do you think?