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Bars' Scanning of ID Violates BC Privacy Laws 198

Posted by kdawson
from the drinking-in-private dept.
AnonymousIslander writes "The Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Province of British Columbia has ruled that electronic scanning of driver's licenses (and similar forms of ID) as a condition of entering a bar or nightclub is a violation of BC's Personal Information Privacy Act. The decision (PDF), while dealing with one specific club, will still have ramifications across the entire province. It is not known if the nightclub in question will attempt to appeal the decision in court. A similar decision was reached last year in Alberta. The system in question is known as BarWatch, and has been the target of criticism by many for a number of years. Despite this, a number of bars/nightclubs and restaurants in communities across Canada have installed similar systems, and just days before this decision came down there were calls for the expansion of BarWatch in Victoria to cover restaurants and other establishments serving the post-bar crowds." Similar systems are in use across the US, as we have discussed.
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Bars' Scanning of ID Violates BC Privacy Laws

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  • Re:Liability (Score:5, Informative)

    by thenewguy001 (1290738) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:04PM (#28812785)
    I can't speak for other jurisdictions, but this barwatch program in BC was enacted in response to a rash of nightclub shootings in recent years in which gang members got into fights with other patrons or were killed in targeted hits in which innocent bystanders were wounded or killed. The ID scan is to identify persons known to police in a database and refuse them services or entrance to the premises. The ID scan itself is already of shaky legal status, but the most troubling issue here is that the ID information from the scan (name, address, etc) is retained by the club in a private database.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:25PM (#28813097)

    1/2 true.

    2 pieces of government ID required to enter any bar, there are signs up ALL over the place in BC telling you about this.
    Minor with fake id, $115 fine for the minor.

  • by n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) * on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:29PM (#28813153) Homepage Journal

    Some of you are perhaps missing some information regarding this case.

    The id's were being taken not because of age issues, it was due to a rash of gang violence in vancouver and the lower mainland of BC. The bars decided to start scanning peoples IDs and running them against a police/RCMP database. This in turn, it was hoped, would keep people with active warrants and such from frequenting bars and causing a ruckus.

    As other have pointed out, it has been somewhat effective as there has not been any shooting in clubs downtown (insert tiger rock analogy here). The downside is that all these innocent people have to submit to police state type actions in order to go to MOST bars in downtown vancouver (mostly on granville st, club district).

    I myself have been denied entrance for asking too many questions regarding data storage policies and complaining about the system. Most people do not seem to care and will hand over their DL as well as be photographed. I have watched many people hand over ID without a second thought. They scan the mag stripe and put it into their private database. How long do they keep the data? I do not know, as I was escorted out for asking that and other questions.

    THis is a real win for privacy in BC. If you read the CBC fourms however, you can see that many so called citizens do not care two shits about privacy as long as they have their preacious illusion of security.

  • Re:Liability (Score:3, Informative)

    by Korin43 (881732) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:30PM (#28813159) Homepage
    I don't know how it is in Canada, but here if a bar gives alcohol to someone underage (even if they have the most perfect ID ever made), they can still get fined and lose their liquor license.
  • Re:Liability (Score:2, Informative)

    by hysma (546540) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:33PM (#28813213)

    So it has nothing to do with trying to enforce drinking ages. Instead it is just more "paper's please" government tracking of citizens.

    I am sure that will make everyone there feel even better about being branded cattle...

    Nope, that all came after the Privacy Commissioner did his investigation. Originally the police were all about this how it would help them track down gangs and the clubs were all about how this would help them fend off repeat trouble makers.

  • by hysma (546540) on Friday July 24, 2009 @05:39PM (#28813339)

    I'll support this decision when the laws concerning kids change.

    Here are two dangerous scenarios, both of which take place in an age-restricted venue.

    #1) You go home with the cute girl. You don't worry about this person's age since the legal age of the venue is 18 (Quebec), 19 (rest of Canada), or 21 (USA). Well, turns out you were wrong, and now you're a branded sex offender for life. Your only recourse is to sue the bar to oblivion for not doing its job filtering out the kids, forcing the bar to start being more strict, including scanning IDs.

    In Canada feel free to have sex with any girl who's over 16. But you'll be thrown in jail if you take photos. For photos, you've got to wait until she's 19. But sex, no problem at 16! Oh and they just moved that up from 14 a couple of years ago...

  • Re:Liability (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:29PM (#28813917)

    For what the word of the bouncer is worth (a good friend of ours, though), he tells me that it's so that if some shit DOES go down in the bar, they have a snapshot of his ID, which can pretty damn useful in catching said person.

  • by dissy (172727) on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:35PM (#28813979)

    Governments also consistently ruled that if someone gives the barman a fake ID and they fall for it, it's still the barman's fault

    [citation_needed] []

    Holiday was fined $500 by the Kansas Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. His customer was arrested in March 2008 for being a minor in possession of alcohol and for presenting police with a fake driver's license. He paid $452 in fines and court fees.

    Holiday being the bar owner.

    P.S. You really should check out this new site called Google []. It lets you confirm such simple queries in less time than it takes to type the question (0.12 seconds in this case) instead of asking on a forum and having to wait minutes to hours for a reply.

  • Re:Liability (Score:3, Informative)

    by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Friday July 24, 2009 @06:39PM (#28814035)

    Illegal search by the government without warrant.

    Only if the clubs in BC were run by the government, and the card was not surrendered voluntarily.

  • Re:Liability (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @07:35PM (#28814509)

    Many Greater Vancouver residents blame certain visible minorities for most of the crimes in their communities, but police and academics say the statistical evidence contradicts such racial stereotypes.

    Nearly two-thirds of respondents to an Ipsos Reid poll believe some ethnic groups are more responsible for crime than others, and they put Indo-Canadian and Asians at the top of their lists....

    In an interview Tuesday, Vancouver Police Insp. Kash Heed, commanding officer of the department's district 3 -- southeast Vancouver -- said actual statistics show the reverse of the poll findings.

    "In the Lower Mainland, the majority of crimes are committed by Caucasians," he said.

  • Re:Liability (Score:2, Informative)

    by rashanon (910380) on Friday July 24, 2009 @07:54PM (#28814709)

    Its used in Vancouver to keep the gang bangers out, because right now they are all at war to take control of the blossoming drug trade. In Victoria its used to keep out the small cadre of drunks an malcontents who go from bar to bar to bar just getting more drunk. Its a private bar. If you don't like the fact that you have to provide ID then dont go. You dont have a right to go to the bar. no bar owner gives a shit who you are demographically, they care if you have already been tossed out of another bar this eveining for being a drunk dickhead.

    We have an explosion of people in BC who wont accept any responsibility for being dumb. You don't have a right to go out, get drunk, piss on the doorway of someones downtown business, or start keying someones car because you don't like the way it works, or a hundred other complaints we get every weekend evening here.

    And i mean here, because i live in Victoria. we just don't have a drunk tank big enough to deal with all of the late night idiots. We are pushing some of the responsibility back on the bars, and this is what they came up. The data is encrypted so its not easy to get to.

    Too bad if you think you right to privacy has been violated. GO HOME AND SOBER UP

  • by LargeMythicalReptile (531143) on Friday July 24, 2009 @09:56PM (#28815453)

    Legally, the difference between a bar and a country club is that the bar is what is frequently referred to as a semi-public space []. That is, it is private property, but is open to the general public. Restaurants, shops, etc. typically fall into this category.

    Owners of semi-public spaces do have some rights to control their property (e.g. enforcing a rule that they'll kick you out of the store if you don't buy anything, or a movie theater not allowing kids into a theater hall that is currently showing an R-rated film). However, they have fewer rights over the property than owners of private spaces do (e.g. they can't prevent someone from entering solely based on their race).

    A country club is typically a fully private space--while there are procedures for gaining access, the general public is excluded. A bar is a semi-public space--there is a general expectation that it is "open to the public" (subject to legal age restrictions). Your proposal of "membership" might be seen as an attempt to make a bar a letter-of-the-law private space. IANAL, but I'd expect it to fail in one of two ways:
    1) Someone could legitimately argue that the temporary "membership" is basically a farce and the bar is still a semi-public space, since the general public can--and, indeed, is desired to--still access it by gaining trivial membership.
    2) There may be zoning restrictions involved. Bars are frequently located in commercial zones; cities may require any businesses operating in the area to be semi-public.

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