I came across this story in the Coloradoan earlier this week:
Old Town Fort Collins bars plan to launch ID scanners
You need to read the story, but in a nutshell an initiative called “Downtown After Dark” wants every establishment in downtown Fort Collins to install drivers license scanners, as well as photograph everyone that enters a bar in Fort Collins at night. They want to build a database of all patrons so that they can easily identify trouble-makers.
They say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, but I’m not even sure if these intentions are that good. I can appreciate the intention of wanting to curb bar fights and disorderly conduct, but is giving the police a database on everyone that goes out the way to do this? Talk about “guilty until proven innocent.”
If we’ve learned anything by the internet: building a database of personal information will surely get hacked. It’s like what Steve Buscemi said in Armageddon, you’re going to put your trust into something that was built by the lowest bidder? They said that the ID system is being targeted by the small minority of disrupters, but it’s the vast majority that’s going to be impacted when some identity thief gets into that data. Moreover, if you have open access to employees in these establishments, how hard is it for a seedy worker to go in and get the address of woman he’s decided to stalk?
You then have the issue of what’s considered “unruly behavior”. I’m sure the law enforcement in Fort Collins do a fine job, but this system becomes all too easy to track the whereabouts of anyone out to have a good time in Fort Collins. What happens when someone who has unpaid parking tickets shows up at the bar? What happens if a private investigation firm gets access to this DB. All of the sudden your employer can now find out whether you were drinking the night before you called in sick?
Each one of these systems costs $1800 – multiply that by the number of bars in Old Town and watch those costs sky-rocket. Those machines need to be paid for by someone – whether it’s the owners hiking the prices of drinks, or the tax-payer when this measure is put on a ballot.
This all boils down to the fact that some bars in Old Town have a problem over-serving people. Instead of cracking down on the patrons who are having a good time, not causing any trouble and pumping money into the local economy, why don’t we crack down on the bartenders who aren’t cutting people off when they need to be? There are bars in Old Town which constantly have these incidents, why not crack down on the owners of these places to beef up their own security before tracking anyone who goes out in Fort Collins?