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TUCoPS :: Spies! :: barbro.txt

Have a Drink with Big Brother

This is from the "Spyware Weekly Newsletter : October 14, 2003"

Having A Drink With Big Brother

How would you like to drink a beer with Big Brother? Starting some time
within the next six months, some patrons in the Vancouver area in Canada
will be doing just that.

Last week, 35 bars and nightclubs belonging to an organization called
Barwatch voted to make mandatory the use of a computerized network to track
detailed information about their patrons. Customers will be forced to allow
their pictures to be taken and combined with personally identifiable
information before being allowed inside. It even will allow participating
businesses to access criminal records.

This information will be shared among every other business tied into the
system, as well as with law enforcement. It is also possible that the
information could be sold to market research companies.

As you might expect, Vancouver residents are not happy about this. Darrell
Evans, executive director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy
Association, hates the idea. "I would just walk the other way and see how
they like it. I wouldn't put up with that myself."

One resident had this to say in a letter to the editor of The Vancouver Sun.

Count me as one citizen who will never voluntarily give up my rights to
legitimate anonymity. Photographing patrons and keeping records of their
activities, surveying and scrutinizing them with cameras, and compiling data
to trade amongst themselves and the authorities is such a direct violation
of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms that I can't imagine how the owners
could even propose such a scheme.

Owen Cameron, co-owner of the company responsible for creating the ID
software, disagrees. "Most people are willing to give up a bit of anonymity
for safety," he said. I wonder how the weather is in Mr Cameron's personal
little world where that is true?

Proponents of a similar technology being used in California claim that any
invasion of privacy is not alarming because there's not much privacy left to

Without the slightest doubt, that is the most boneheaded statement that I
have ever heard. Am I excused from mugging someone because they were mugged
an hour earlier and were left with only a dollar? Does that somehow make it
OK for me to take that last dollar?

Some employees of businesses participating in the program are worried about
becoming unemployed as potential customers leave in disgust for less
intrusive watering holes. Business has decreased noticeably since the
program began according to one employee of a participating member.

Truly, I would hate for this foolishness to cost anyone their job. However,
I hope that area bars not participating in this program watch their own
business increase at Barwatch's expense. I hope they are able to understand
why their business is increasing. In a free market, paying customers tend to
spend money with businesses who treat them with respect.

The goal of the program, ensuring that underage minors are turned away and
keeping track of rowdy drinkers, is noble. However, the way this program is
being conducted is foolhardy and I predict that it costs these bars a
significant drop in business.

The very idea runs counter to Human nature. There are bars you frequent
regularly, where everyone really does know your name. On the other hand,
there are bars where you go when you want a quiet beer with no talk and with
no one knowing who you are.

For thousands of years, we have always been able to walk into a bar and sip
a beer or whiskey quietly and anonymously. This is such a basic component of
most Human societies that I cannot believe bar owners have overlooked it. I
sincerely hope that they wise up before it costs them their business and us
our privacy.

875 :: Letter to the Editor (Vancouver Sun)
EA16D :: High-tech targets bad bar customers
<> :: Taking

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