Monday, August 15, 2005

Calgary student challenges nightclub over scanning ID

I've been waiting for this complaint for some time. When people (usually younger and with more interesting social lives) make the mistake of asking me what I do for a living, the description is usually follwed by the question "can bars legally scan your driver's license?" According to the Globe & Mail, an Alberta law student has complained to the Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner about the increasingly common practice of requiring bar patrons to have their ID scanned before being allowed entry.

Presumably the basis for the complaint is that the bar is requiring patrons to consent to the collection and use of personal information that is not necessary. Section 7(2) of the Personal Information Protection Act (Alberta) reads:

An organization shall not, as a condition of supplying a product or service, require an individual to consent to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information about an individual beyond what is necessary to provide the product or service.

I have heard bar owners in Halifax quoted as saying that the practice is only to verify that the ID has not been altered because the readers check that the info encoded on the magnetic strip is the same what appears on the face of the license. OK. But readers also record all the data (name, address, date of birth, license restrictions, etc.) and download them into a central system at the end of the day.

This should be an interesting case, since it will have to consider why the bars want this information and whether it is reasonable.

Read the Globe & Mail article here: Globetechnology: Calgary student challenges nightclub

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