Luke Cyca .com

Lady Justice Weeps at Fortune

11:47pm, September 25th, Fortune Sound Club: Ascending the staircase of a popular new nightclub, secure on the guest list, stomach full of expensive Belgian waffles, I suddenly became nauseous. No, it wasn't food poisoning. It was righteous indignation.

They wanted to swipe my identification into a computer and take my photo. The only other place I've had to do this to gain entry recently is the United States of America. WTF indeed. After a feeble argument with the girl at the desk involving privacy rights and such, I paid my cover and frowned at the camera, barely making eye contact.

The next morning, I got up early and emailed proprietor Rob Rizk...

I have to say that my first impression was soured by having my ID scanned and photo taken. I know a lot of places in Vancouver do that, and I avoid those places, although I reluctantly participated last night so I could be with my friends. I've nothing to hide, but I'm totally put off by over-the-top security. I'd feel similarly about having to walk through a big metal detector to get into your club. It's super tacky.

To my surprise, he emailed me back within a few hours. He didn't really address my concerns directly, but admitted that it is an unfortunately tacky requirement, and alluded to being pressured by the VPD and LCLB. He apparently forwarded my email to TreoScope, because they also replied. Here's what I learned:

  • They slurp your name, birthdate, and gender from your ID's magnetic stripe
  • They correlate that with your picture
  • They can attach their own comments to customer records
  • They can share those comments with other bars
  • They can publish a "community alert" which flags you at all other bars using TreoScope
  • The data is stored offsite by TreoScope
  • The establishment can get aggregated demographic reports for marketing purposes

Ugh. Not a very customer-friendly system by design. Luckily, a ruling earlier this year, as well as pressure from BC Privacy Czar David Loukidelis, has forced TreoScope to make their policies a bit more privacy-friendly. I'll pause while you read all of those links. The important bits are these:

  • Customer information must be completely destroyed after a transitory 24-hour working period.
  • However, if a customer is determined within the transitory 24-hour working period to be violent or otherwise undesirable from a safety perspective, that customer's name, photograph, date of birth and gender can be kept, and shared with other bars using EnterSafe, for customer safety purposes.

Not bad—It's a marked improvement.  The criteria here is decidedly ambiguous though, and there doesn't seem to be any recourse if you find yourself flagged with a community alert. An owner with an axe to grind could potentially exaggerate the report and make a party-goer's life pretty miserable. As long as one stays in the "desirable" category, then privacy seems to be more-or-less maintained.

Luke Cyca .com