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Banned at One Bar? You Could Be Banned from Them All

We all know that people can get a little carried away in bars, that’s a given anytime you mix nightlife and alcohol. How many people expect that a particularly rowdy night might end up with their name on “a nightlife equivalent of a no fly list”, accessible by bars across the world? Well technology has brought us there! According to a post on OneZero Medium by Susie Cagle, A product called PatronScan allows bars and establishments to scan guests’ IDs to verify the authenticity, but it also provides businesses with a bit of security. The software attached to the scanners allows bars to tag patrons who are rowdy, and share their blacklisted status with every other bar that uses the service. 

Now we know bars are for adults, and adults are responsible for their own behavior. When used properly, it’s easy to see how a system like PatronScan can help keep bar owners and employees safe, and protect other patrons from potentially disruptive or dangerous bar-goers. It’s up to the user (the bar manager or bouncer) to decide who gets flagged and for what kind of behavior. However, even after an incident, most people probably do not expect their bad behavior to automatically be shared with other bars. Those other businesses can make their own decisions on how to handle patrons that have been flagged in the system. Imagine being banned from a craft cocktail lounge because you were disruptive at the local dive bar! 

Now it probably would not be too bad if you ended up on a bar’s naughty list for a short period. However, PatronScan says that in Sacramento for example, the average length of a ban was 19 years. That is a long, potentially excessive amount of time to be blacklisted from a bar, especially because that list could be shared with other businesses around the world that use PatronScans service. And according to Cagle, more than 60% of banned patrons were flagged for “private” reasons, meaning the bar did not log a specific rule the patron may have broken or what act they committed. On the other hand, it’s certainly reassuring to business owners that they can identify potentially troublesome customers ahead of time, and take proactive measures to keep the peace in their establishment. 

Looking deeper at a system like PatronScan, it’s clear that even polite bargoers may be giving away more information than they care to share.  Once a bar adopts an ID scanning system, even innocent patrons may never know where their ID data will end up, or how it will be used.” We’ve seen no shortage of data breaches, hacks and mismanagement in the last few years. What happens to your information when a bouncer scans your ID? Do we need to review a privacy policy just to enter a bar? After all, you’re submitting to having your ID scanned, potentially logging your address, birthday, and anything else that can be linked to you based on that information. The implications for this kind of technology go far beyond just dealing with unruly customers. When technology and data are involved, there are usually a lot of questions and unknowns lurking beneath the surface. Check out the article on Medium for more info, and be sure to share your opinion with us on social media!

Source: One Zero, Medium (Susie Cagle)