Sunday, December 28, 2008

Big Brother is Actually and Literally Here, Now

Maybe I've been living in a hole, but we had a brand new experience last night of going into Otto's Shrunken Head (free bands, $5 drinks) and having our driver's license scanned. On a little screen all our personal information that can be gleaned from a license - name, address, date of birth, probably social security number (I can't find any site that tells me exactly what is being stored in NY drivers licenses), eye color etc. came up. Identity thieves working in bars? This is the perfect way to gain a lot of information. Stalkers in bars? Same thing.

If someone pays their tab with a credit card, the two pieces of data could easily be matched up by a nefarious employee. Some states (I don't know which) store social security numbers and other biometric information such as fingerprints in the barcode of the license, which really tips this issue over the top. I wish we had walked out, but by the time we realized what had happened, it was too late, our information was scanned, and stored.

I find this incredibly invasive. The Times reported on this back in 2002, but I seemed to have missed it until last night. The claim that the scanners don't give them any information they couldn't get if instead they wrote it down or xeroxed it is ludicrous. The manual labor it would take to retrieve the data that way would be quite a project, but not if it's already scanned and put into a database automatically.

Somehow proving your ability to operate a motor vehicle has been combined with it being a national identity card, with the ability to check your identification by anybody including the police, bar owners and border guards in Canada and Mexico.

None of this has been challenged in court.

You are being watched.

1 comment:

Larry Slade said...

All all this for two people well over 21, drinking age, to enter a dive bar!?!?
You shouldn't have to show ID at all if you are clearly over 21. It still happens to me and I'm, well, I'm way over 21.

The policy is that everyone has to do it.
And everyone having to do it all the time is a lovely lesson. Young folk probably are now not aware that there was a time when you didn't have to show your papers to enter a bar, or enter a building, or go to a concert. they are trained to show IDs to anyone who asks.

I moved around the city for years with my ID at home in a drawer. No problem at all.
I'm still in the habit of not carrying it. Last month I went to a movie with a couple of male friends. We wanted to go for a drink after, discuss the movie. Went to a place across the street from me that is a coffee house during the day. Big guy at the door. I had left mine at home. All three of us are over 40. One of us is almost 60!
I was showing the guy my gray hair. He was saying something about everyone having to do it, "What if the liquor broad people came?"
I got sick of the stupid discussion and went around the corner to Little Frankies and spent my money there without showing my ID.

"Let me see your papers. Open your bag please."