Big Brother is watching you drink

Utah is considering getting rid of its comically archaic “private club” rule that requires patrons to become members of a bar before they can drink. Unfortunately, their proposed alternative is a little creepy:

[…] everyone entering a club, whether they’re 21 or 101, would have to swipe their identification to verify it is genuine. The patron’s name, address, driver license number and date of birth would be logged into the [government] database, along with the time and place they were drinking.

And from London, a story from a pub owner forced to install CCTV cameras outside his business:

I have recently agreed to take on a pub in a residential part of Islington. Under normal circumstances this would have simply involved the existing licence holder signing over the premises’ licence to me. Unfortunately they had gone insolvent and disappeared so I applied for a new licence, which requires the approval of a number of organisations, including the police. I was stunned to find the police were prepared to approve, ie not fight, our licence on condition that we installed CCTV capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them upon request. There was no way that they could have imposed this on the previous licence holder.

As it happens the Islington Labour party headquarters is on the same street as the pub and, being a member, I contacted the MP Emily Thornberry to see if she really thinks she needs her photo taken when she pops in for a pint – needless to say I have not heard from her. I also spoke with a friend who is the licensing officer for another borough. Not only did he tell me that there was nothing I could do to overturn this, he also strongly advised me not to blot my copybook with the police by even questioning the request; I would not want them against me in the future, he said.

Calling two examples a trend would be lazy reporting. But given the unique restrictions that are placed on the alcohol industry, we could easily see more governments using regulation as a tool for collecting private information. This is something to keep an eye on.

[Hat tip to Hit and Run for the first link.]

Utah, future home of the Vieux Carré


Down the memory hole

Eugene Volokh started an interesting thread last week about whether or not one should consider deleting someone’s name from old blog posts if he requests you to because, for example, he doesn’t want acquaintances or prospective employers finding it by Googling his name. Volokh’s example regarded a person’s past misconduct. I’ve just received a similar request regarding commentary on a person’s previously published opinion. There’s no question that it was appropriate to comment on at the time. The question is whether there’s still any value in leaving his name attached to the post and if I should honor the request. There’s nothing egregiously objectionable in this person’s opinion, nor has he necessarily renounced it.

Like Volokh, I’m of two minds about this, so I’ll open the matter up to comments. Under what conditions, if any, should past blog posts be edited for the convenience of the people they reference?