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Say Pub Cheese

Remember when your high school guidance counselor threatened that your bad grades, crap attitude or sophomoric hi-jinx would become a part of your “permanent record” and follow you for the rest of your life.  While that might once have been a scare tactic, it’s becoming a harsh reality for those in the bar-hopping set and it won’t be long before it expands its reach.

I’m talking about ID scanner companies that are using AI and other technology to indeed create, if not permanent records of about you, your habits and your behavior, records that could easily affect your life in some very material ways.

We are all pretty used to the idea of handing over our drivers’ licenses to get on a plane, rent a car, stay at a hotel, and buy booze or lottery tickets.  (I was general counsel for many years for a fuel and convenience store chain, so I know of which I speak.) What is new here are services that enable, nay encourage, the collection of scads of intimate data along with proof of age AND associating that data with subjective assessments of your behavior.

Services like PatronScan and IDScan advertise the ability to create a dynamic, sharable “no-fly” list for “bad” customers.  According to an article recently published in OneZero, “PatronScan’s reports reveal the company logged where customers live, the household demographics for that area, how far each customer travelled to a bar, and how many different bars they had visited. According to the company’s own policies, the company readily shares the information it collects on patrons, both banned and not, at the request of police. In addition to selling its kiosks to individual bars and nightlife establishments, PatronScan also advertises directly to cities, suggesting that they mandate the adoption of their service.”

Once you make it past the velvet rope, you are then at the mercy of any employee of the bar who has access to the system.  You can be tagged as either a lover or a fighter.  One list includes “Assault,” “disturbance,” “drug possession,” “drug trafficking,” “fake ID,” “fighting,” “gang violence,” “public intoxication,” “sexual assault,” “theft,” “private,” or (helpfully) “other.” Once you are on the naughty list, your infamy may be shared across the entire network.  You may appeal, but it may take years to clear your name.

If this weren’t enough to keep you home on a Friday night, consider that at least one ID scanner company, IDScan,  is taking it up a notch with facial recognition technology.  That’s right; now bars can train a camera on your face while you’re in line to be admitted and match your face to your ID when you scan it at the door.  Do they inform the queue that they are on camera?  That’s up to the bar.

Let’s recap:  Private companies create large databases of personal information, including your face, allow the addition of subjective assessments of your behavior with little to no oversight or standards, disseminate this information across a network of commercial establishments, freely share the information with law enforcement, and lobby municipalities to make the use of such scanners a mandatory part of compliance.  Got that?

This calls for a contest.  How many Constitutional, privacy, civil rights and other social and other legal or ethical ramifications of this technology can you spot?  Winner gets a signed copy of The Privacy in the Age of Big Data.  The judging, much like the bad behavior tags discussed above will be entirely subjective, unscientific and final.  Good luck!

Categories: Uncategorized

2 replies »

  1. Not to mention your insurance companies, medical, life and auto. “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two” indeed. #wearefarmers

  2. Let’s see. A completely unregulated, entirely subjective database that first marks all of its users as bar patrons — with specific bars, dates and times included. The heavy drinkers will be quickly identified, as well as the patrons of specialty bars, like those that serve the military, immigrant or LGBTQAA communities. Behavior and other subjective comments can be included in your “permanent record.” If the bartender or bouncer thinks your breath mints are illegal drugs, you could be marked as a criminal without ever knowing it.

    Now we share this data with police, who can use it not only to make judgments about you, but to determine if you were in the vicinity when a crime was committed. Now we can also review this database with facial recognition, not only to determine ethnicity, but compare with other cameras in the area to follow you through your nocturnal wanderings.And all this without warrants or adult supervision of any type.

    What could go wrong?

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