[Politech] Having a drink with Big Brother in Vancouver, Canada [priv]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Wed Oct 15 2003 - 05:48:48 PDT

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    From: "Chuck Mauthe" <cmauthe@private>
    To: "'Politech'" <declan@private>
    Subject: Having A Drink With Big Brother
    Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 08:44:03 -0400
    
    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
    invade.
    
    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.
    
    Links:
    http://www.canada.com/search/story.aspx?id=ef9085ea-6a32-4042-98dd-c7e55801a
    875 :: Letter to the Editor (Vancouver Sun)
    http://www.canada.com/vancouver/story.asp?id=936FC638-D1F5-4BA0-8E4B-1F4FEAD
    EA16D :: High-tech targets bad bar customers
    http://www.sacticket.com/nightlife/story/5839603p-6805951c.html :: Taking
    license
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