Privacy concerns surround ID scanners
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:33PM EST
The use of ID scanners at some bars, clubs and restaurants has raised privacy concerns and even led to complaints in some parts of Canada.
It also remains unclear for many people why their ID needs to be scanned by the controversial gadgets for entrance to a club or bar and some say allowing your ID to be scanned should be optional.
A complaint from viewer Jeremy Yiu prompted an investigation at CTV Southwestern Ontario. He claimed he was treated unfairly at a local club after asking why his ID needed to be scanned.
Yiu says "Without asking, he just grabbed my ID and scanned it with his portable scanner. I said ‘It's not right and you can't do it. You cannot scan my ID without my permission.'"
He was told his personal information would not be stored and he asked a manager for the scanner's model number, to research the technology for himself.
After taking down the information Yiu says "He said ‘You can go now,' and I said ‘Wow, are you kicking me out?' And he replied ‘Yeah, if you're not happy you don't have to stay.'"
Repeated requests for an interview with the club Yiu visited were denied, so CTV's Matthew Kang went undercover to see exactly what happens at the club's entrance.
The guard at the club said the scanner tells them whether or not someone should be let in, their name, age and approximate height, and it is deleted at the end of the night.
That means the information is being collected and stored, at least temporarily, which isn't what Yiu was told when he visited.
At Molly Bloom's Irish Pub in London, Ont., scanners are used in the same way, and two staff members have access to that information.
One of them is manager Keith O'Brien. He says the only time information is kept longer than one night is if someone wants to be on the VIP list or is causing trouble.
O'Brien says "That's going to deter the people who have weapons. That's going to deter the people who have drugs. It's going to deter the people who have fake IDs, the people you don't want in the bars."
While some bars and customers feel that the information should be accessible if something happens that is unacceptable, it's not the point of view of some provincial privacy commissioners.
The Privacy Commissioners of Albert and B.C. have both called for the scanning to stop at clubs and bars in Calgary and Vancouver.
B.C. Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis says "It's not appropriate to collect the broad scale of information that you're collecting about all customers and retaining for considerable amounts of time."
Yiu, meanwhile, has written to the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario with his concerns, but has yet to hear back.
Coming up in part two: What does the law say about the use of ID scanners, the collection of personal information and your rights? Find out when a business can scan your ID and when they're crossing the line.