A little over a year ago, I blogged about a Halifax bar that had its suspended liquor license back by promising to provide the cops and liquor inspectors with off-site access to expanded surveillance in the bar. (See: Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Halifax bar gets liquor license back on condition that cops have off-site access to surveillance system.) While I understand that the bar volunteered this, I speculated it wouldn't be too long before such access is demanded as a condition of licensing.
Now Boing Boing links to a letter in the Guardian reciting a similar situation in the UK. In this case, the pub was required by the police to install CCTV and provide images to police as a condition of the police approving the license application:
Letters: Keep an eye on our growing surveillance culture UK news The Guardian
I have recently agreed to take on a pub in a residential part of Islington. Under normal circumstances this would have simply involved the existing licence holder signing over the premises' licence to me. Unfortunately they had gone insolvent and disappeared so I applied for a new licence, which requires the approval of a number of organisations, including the police. I was stunned to find the police were prepared to approve, ie not fight, our licence on condition that we installed CCTV capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them upon request. There was no way that they could have imposed this on the previous licence holder.
As it happens the Islington Labour party headquarters is on the same street as the pub and, being a member, I contacted the MP Emily Thornberry to see if she really thinks she needs her photo taken when she pops in for a pint - needless to say I have not heard from her. I also spoke with a friend who is the licensing officer for another borough. Not only did he tell me that there was nothing I could do to overturn this, he also strongly advised me not to blot my copybook with the police by even questioning the request; I would not want them against me in the future, he said.
I have been spitting teeth in a silent rage since I first heard of this request, but at every turn I am alternately advised to keep my head down or laughed at for my naivety for thinking that the world was ever not thus. When was it that the constant small erosion of our liberties became irreversible?