THE Privacy Commissioner has warned Newcastle pubs and clubs that use identification scanners on patrons to be mindful of privacy laws.Debate has raged over the topic since The Herald reported that the Cambridge Hotel, in Hunter Street, installed an identification scanner last week.ID scanning was covered under the Privacy Act and pubs had to ensure secure databases and that personal information was destroyed quickly, Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis said. The Cambridge, Diggers clubs at Wallsend and Mayfield (formerly Ex Services Club) and Fannys of Newcastle nightclub use the devices.Information is kept by the venues for between 24 hours and two weeks.The eventual goal is to link all the Newcastle late-night venues to try to identify and restrict troublemakers.Objectors have accused the pubs and clubs of Big Brother-style antics, citing conspiracy theories of Newcastle taking gradual steps towards becoming a police state.But publicans maintain the information is destroyed unless the patron does something wrong or it is requested from police.An online poll by The Herald showed that 66 per cent of readers were in favour of the use of ID scanners at Newcastle hotels.Almost 34 per cent said the scanners were too much like Big Brother.Readers further weighed into the debate on The Herald's website with many applauding the security measure."It could be you or one of your friends that is king-hit for no reason or one of your girlfriends ends up being raped after she had her drink spiked," Steven Kekovski wrote. "With the help of CCTV (closed-circuit television) and these ID scanners, police are able to identify these people."The first complaint about ID scanning was lodged with the Australian Privacy Commissioner in December 2001. Complaints have increased in the past 12 months.A study commissioned by the privacy office in 2007 showed that 18 per cent of Australians believed that it was acceptable for their ID to be copied or scanned when entering a hotel or club.Eighty per cent believed it was acceptable to show ID.