Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New system takes ID swiping to a new level

I've written on this blog before about the practice of swiping drivers' licenses and other IDs at bars. The Omega--an independent student newspaper from Thompson River University--is reporting about a company that takes it to a new level by photographing all bar patrons:

Big brother at the bar? - Cactus Jacks implements new way to screen attendees

“We have a new monitoring system called Treoscope that everyone that comes into the pub must go through,” said Cactus Jack’s manager Pete Backus. “It takes your picture and also records your name and where you are from.”

The entire system has brought up privacy concerns. The B.C. privacy commissioner is ruling on the legality of the way Treoscope collects and stores information.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association said Tresocope violates the Personal Information Protection Act and the collection and storage of information from driver’s licenses is not necessary to provide the services drinking establishments offer. The association has qualms over who can access personal information and any resulting identity theft.

The electronic identification system has been put in place because of rising levels of violence in the club. Cactus Jack’s now requires identification cards that have a magnetic swipe stripe containing the user’s name, address and age in order for entrance to be granted.

According to the Treoscope website, patrons’ personal information is safe because only the name and age are displayed, not the birth date. It also claims information can only be accessed by police if they have a proper warrant.

Treoscope EnterSafe’s software database is connected to other clubs’ computers that operate the same software. When there is an incident, a “community alert” is attached to the person’s name allowing all those connected to determine whether to allow a club-goer in or not.

“We use it for security for the patrons of the club,” Backus said, who added they have been trying to cut down on gang violence in and around the club. When they learn someone is an Independent Soldier or other gang member they go back to the stored information and flag the individual. “We are trying to get rid of that,” Backus said. “We are not allowing people into the club that are gang-related or if they come into a club and start a fight. When that happens we now have their picture and we can suspend them from the club for as long as we want.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How appropriate that the practice used by establishments is to "swipe" identification -- especially since "swipe" is defined as "To pluck; to snatch; to steal." or "A sweeping stroke or blow" or "strike with a swiping motion" or "make off with belongings of others".

I had a discussion about this subject with the owner of several Calgary bars, where scanning driver's licenses was routine. He assured me that only he and the bouncers, and perhaps other bar staff, had access to the database. No mention of where the data was kept, or how (or if) it was secured -- or of the fact that many bouncers (according to various cops I've worked with over the year) have questionable backgrounds, motives and associates.