Nova Scotia

ID scanners may be used in all Halifax bars

Bars and restaurants in downtown Halifax that have joined forces to bar rowdy drunks who cause problems may soon all have scanners that can detect fake identification.
All downtown Halifax bars and restaurants may soon have scanners that can detect fake IDs. (CBC)

Bars and restaurants in downtown Halifax that have joined forces to bar rowdy drunks who cause problems may soon all have scanners that can detect fake identification.

The 20 bars announced last week that they have set up the Pass Program to bar rowdy drinkers for up to one year. If an obnoxious drunk is barred from one establishment, he or she will be barred from all downtown bars.

Gordon Stewart, of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, wants all bars to have ID scanners. ((CBC))
Gordon Stewart, of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, wants all the bars in the program to have scanners that can detect a fake ID from anywhere in the country.

Everyone who goes into a bar would have their ID scanned, and the information is kept on file.

"Basically your ID and your age and your address. And if it has a picture it will pick it up on the scanner overall," Stewart said.

Bars in Manitoba and British Columbia have been using the system for years, but not without public outcry over privacy concerns.

The federal privacy commissioner found the machines collected more information than was necessary and it was being kept for too long.

Now, the information must be deleted after 24 hours.

That's what Halifax bars have promised, with one exception.

"We're not retaining any information at all," Stewart said. "The only information we would keep is someone that's being barred from a restaurant."

Stewart said that has the OK of the privacy commissioner, but just how long the offender's information will be kept isn't clear at this point.

"It could be indefinitely," he said.

Dalhousie law professor Wayne MacKay says identification scanners raise privacy concerns. ((CBC))
That's a cause for concern, according Wayne MacKay, law professor, Dalhousie University, who is a privacy expert.

"Once you give the information you don't know what they're doing with it. So that's the first thing," he said.

"And I guess the second thing, in terms of even a person who was deemed to be causing problems, I would still want to know what use was going to be made of that. For example, do they share it with the police, does it in any way become part of a criminal record?"

Some Halifax bars like the Dome already use scanners.

If the plan goes ahead, 20 more bars in Halifax could start carrying their own devices next year.

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