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Victoria Barwatch Program


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#1 Bob Fugger

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 02:25 PM

Privacy concerns persist as Victoria adopts Barwatch program

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | 3:00 PM PT

CBC News

Anyone heading to a Victoria bar or club may soon expect to have their ID scanned and entered into a database as part of a new program to help the operators keep troublemakers out.

Thirteen downtown bars launched a Barwatch program Wednesday, based on the controversial program started in Vancouver five years ago.

The participating bars in Victoria include the 500-seat Strathcona Hotel and make up more than a third of the city's primary liquor establishments.
Anyone causing problems in one venue will be banned from all others. Bans may last from one night to one year.

B.C.'s privacy commissioner David Loukidelis has been looking into concerns about the Vancouver program for the past four years
But Victoria police Const. Lori Beauvais believes she knows why he hasn't yet made a ruling.

"It would be very difficult to … impart on a decision that would exclude the use of the item when clearly it does save lives," she said.
Beauvais said reports from Vancouver show random gunfire has been virtually eliminated from the areas where the clubs participate in Barwatch. The B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police has called it "demonstrably necessary for the safety and security of late night venues," according to Beauvais.


The Vancouver Barwatch Program has done an awesome job of eliminating random gunfire outside of clubs. Now, increased shootings are being pushed out to other residential, commercial and industrial areas. Nice work!

And as for Cnst. Beauvais, musing aloud that the privacy commissioner hasn't ruled on the program because it saves lives, that's a silly law and order argument that doesn't surprise me coming from a cop. One can easily counterargue that the death penalty, Camp XRay/Gitmo and the US PATRIOT ACT all save lives - it doesn't make them right, though.

#2 G-Man

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 03:00 PM

^ Exactly, I mean a GPS chip implanted in each Canadian may save lives or cameras on every corner or an 8pm curfew.

#3 victorian fan

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 03:52 PM

I read that as Baywatch. ;)

#4 VicDuck

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 04:00 PM

^ Exactly, I mean a GPS chip implanted in each Canadian may save lives or cameras on every corner or an 8pm curfew.


Don't even joke about the chips. The chip idea scares the s*** out of me.

#5 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 04:23 PM

Let me set a few things straight. The individual bar cannot retrieve the information, the police must have a search warrant and the owner of the system (in Vancouver) then can release it.

It stores names, birthdate, and the picture the bar takes, not the picture from the license.

You can supply another form of ID like a passport and only the name and passport # will be entered.

All 13 bars already have video surveillance, so this just puts a name to the face automatically. The bouncer could just as easily enter the name into a log book with exact time to reconcile the video surveillance and the name, that would be legal, he has to look at the ID.

Police and DRA and DVBA and the Mayor and the general public want the rowdyism curbed, this system allows bars to eject a person for foolishness, say, at 10pm and they will be done for the night downtown, they can't go anywhere else and goof off again.

in Vancouver, when the gun violence was happening downtown, a lot of people were in the crossfire, innocent clubgoers and door staff etc. Not so much in the outlying shootings.

B.C.'s privacy commissioner David Loukidelis has been looking into concerns about the Vancouver program for the past four years


I don't know why a guy has to study the legality for four years either...

#6 aastra

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 04:25 PM

Crap, VHF. You blew my sarcastic comment away.

#7 jklymak

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 07:24 PM

The two concerns I have with this are the secure storage of identifying information, and also the right of appeal. If I go to a bar and piss off the bartender somehow and he blackballs me what recourse do I have?

#8 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 07:31 PM

The two concerns I have with this are the secure storage of identifying information, and also the right of appeal. If I go to a bar and piss off the bartender somehow and he blackballs me what recourse do I have?


What recourse do you have now?

Under liquor-primary rules, I can refuse you entry under absolutely any circumstance, and I do not have to give you a reason why you are not allowed in. ANY reason, any time.

The information is name and date of birth, and it is stored in a computer on the mainland. Use your credit card in my bar, and I've got a lot more info than that, right on premise. If you have been here in the last 60 days, I've already got your movements over the course of your visit on 16 surveillance cameras.

#9 jklymak

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 08:03 PM

What recourse do you have now?

Under liquor-primary rules, I can refuse you entry under absolutely any circumstance, and I do not have to give you a reason why you are not allowed in. ANY reason, any time.


Right, and I don't have any problem with that. However, by publishing a blacklist, one bar is asking the next to take their word that a patron is a problem. Thats different than saying "get out of my bar", its saying "get out of downtown". At the least I think that I should be able to know why I am being refused entry to the second bar, and have a right to see what the first bar wrote so I can at least have legal recourse to defend my public name.

#10 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 08:11 PM

Right, and I don't have any problem with that. However, by publishing a blacklist, one bar is asking the next to take their word that a patron is a problem. Thats different than saying "get out of my bar", its saying "get out of downtown". At the least I think that I should be able to know why I am being refused entry to the second bar, and have a right to see what the first bar wrote so I can at least have legal recourse to defend my public name.


Ya, you probably have a point now that I feel I look like an asshole in that last post.

We asked if the system had been misused in Vancouver ie. some door guy breaks up with his girlfriend and the jealous prick decides to deny her a nightlife. Funny thing is, I got a coughing fit when that question came up and it was at the height of the then-called swine flu frenzy, so I was being looked at bad and had to leave the room for 5 minutes. True story.

But you could likely plead your case with the owner of the bar that flagged you.

If a guy/gal is flagged at one bar, and is well-known as a peaceful person at another bar, BarWatch does not require member bars to deny entry, they just ask that door staff to seriously consider the details contained in the flag.

#11 mat

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 09:15 PM

If a guy/gal is flagged at one bar, and is well-known as a peaceful person at another bar, BarWatch does not require member bars to deny entry, they just ask that door staff to seriously consider the details contained in the flag.


How quick is the system - does it post directly to mobile phones? It obviously depends on individual bar security interacting with the system. On any busy night how often are bouncers and bar staff able to get together and say this person is out AND we need to post to Bar Watch?

#12 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 10:21 PM

How quick is the system - does it post directly to mobile phones? It obviously depends on individual bar security interacting with the system. On any busy night how often are bouncers and bar staff able to get together and say this person is out AND we need to post to Bar Watch?


Immediate via internet. If a person is asked to leave/thrown out, then the head security person should flag them right away.

We have worked on an informal text message system for almost a year now that has worked quite well, this thing will be faster and with more info.

#13 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 10:38 PM

How quick is the system - does it post directly to mobile phones? It obviously depends on individual bar security interacting with the system. On any busy night how often are bouncers and bar staff able to get together and say this person is out AND we need to post to Bar Watch?


The other thing is that maybe 2 or 3 people are asked to leave a bar each night, so this thing will catch more gang members and chronic trouble-makers coming in than just those that caused trouble THAT night.

I can assure you, the VBCA meetings each month talk about specific individuals, and there is consensus on who is barred, but sort of like the NHL salary cap, sometimes one bar or another will hedge a bit if they have not had a problem with a particular person.

And let me repeat, we meet once a month, bitter rivals as we are, sit around a table and hash out ideas - no other industry does that.

The VBCA has NEVER had a better relationship with City Hall, liquor inspectors and police than we do now.

#14 jklymak

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 04:27 AM

^ That co-operation sounds great. And in general I think this barwatch program sounds like it can be a very effective means to keep bars safer and more enjoyable for customers and employees alike. I just think it would behoove the VBCA or the company who does the interfacing to have an open system whereby patrons can see their record and appeal it. I guess your credit rating is exactly the same principal. Imagine if you could never see why you were being denied credit.

#15 Bob Fugger

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 07:46 AM

The other thing is that maybe 2 or 3 people are asked to leave a bar each night, so this thing will catch more gang members and chronic trouble-makers coming in than just those that caused trouble THAT night.

I can assure you, the VBCA meetings each month talk about specific individuals, and there is consensus on who is barred, but sort of like the NHL salary cap, sometimes one bar or another will hedge a bit if they have not had a problem with a particular person.

And let me repeat, we meet once a month, bitter rivals as we are, sit around a table and hash out ideas - no other industry does that.

The VBCA has NEVER had a better relationship with City Hall, liquor inspectors and police than we do now.


Don't get me wrong, I agree with the spirit of what the program is trying to acheive, I really do. It's the potential privacy abuses that are chilling to me. Unlike credit card data, it doesn't appear that this is optional (i.e., I can choose not to use my credit card) - of course, aside from chosing not to patronize downtown bars (which sounds just ducky for business). As well, it doesn't appear that there is any kind of disclaimer - how the hell do I know that my information is safe with a private establishment, whose primary business is not safeguarding information?

The potential for abuse is huge! Let's say, for example, I suspect that my significant other is cheating on me. I can have a bouncer friend essentially pinpoint her location for me. Or you can give away/sell the info - even if it is only partial, like age and gender - to someone like a liquor rep, who can use the data for market research. What do either of those two examples have to do with public safety?

The other thing is the driver licence issue. The way privacy laws work in Canada, you can't be forced to use your DL as identification, because identification is not the primary purpose of a DL. The primary reason for ICBC gathering the information is to provide you with a permit to drive.

Notwithstanding the fact that a DL has become de facto primary ID, it is this purpose and the subsequent use - and it is this use which is inconsistent with the initial purpose for gather that personal information - which is why the BC Privacy Commissionar is struggling to make a decision and not, as Const. Douchbag Norights of VicPD dates, because it saves lives. It is also the reason why the Alberta Privacy Commissionar ruled against programs like this in the past and why the AB Supreme Court backed the decision.

VFH - it sounds like your text message system is working well. Wouldn't it be more appropriate if instead of taking down everyone's information at the door, that you take the troublemaker's info as they are being ejected and then flag them realtime on a website? If you know who the guys are by name anyways, then doesn't an ID scan system seem a bit heavy-handed? And for those that you don't know, just start carding everyone at the door and see if their name matches the list. Save yourself some dollars by using in-house, common sense options, rather than forking out dollars to the Barwatch Corporation and making me it more difficult and more expensive for me to get drunk in your bar?

#16 G-Man

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 07:56 AM

^ Good point. I am also concerned about it being a private company that is holding the information.

First of all is the company wholly Canadian or is it American and therefore fall under the Patriot Act. Nothing like having the FBI/Homeland Security know that people have been rowdy or selling drugs or using a fake id etc... in a canadian bar (assuming the allegation is true).

What about those from foreign countries that are visiting how is there information taken down?

Why can't the RCMP be responsible for holding the info or some other federal or provincial agency. Private companies cannot be taken to places like the Ombudsman but rather have to be taken to Court.

What happens to all the data of the people that are just entering the premise? Does it get sent to the central computer or is held at the establishment and wiped daily? I can see this being an issue in court cases as to how often you frequented X establishments. Or in divorce proceddings to show wrongdoing. And that would be even if you did absolutely nothing wrong.

I think I will be staying away from premises that are part of this program unless absolutely required, there are plenty of places that are nicer than clubs to drink and not have my personal info taken.

#17 weirdie

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 08:02 AM

Has anyone compiled a list yet of which bars are participating?

#18 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 08:24 AM


The potential for abuse is huge! Let's say, for example, I suspect that my significant other is cheating on me. I can have a bouncer friend essentially pinpoint her location for me. Or you can give away/sell the info - even if it is only partial, like age and gender - to someone like a liquor rep, who can use the data for market research. What do either of those two examples have to do with public safety?


The bouncer can not pull up a name, he can review photographs of people who entered only on the day the system is in use, not any earlier. So if your bouncer buddy knows what she looks like, YES, he could look her up and see if she entered that day. But if your bouncer friends knows her, you could call him up and ask if he has seen her enter, system or no system.

The other thing is the driver licence issue. The way privacy laws work in Canada, you can't be forced to use your DL as identification, because identification is not the primary purpose of a DL. The primary reason for ICBC gathering the information is to provide you with a permit to drive.


BCID or a passport can be used.

VFH - it sounds like your text message system is working well. Wouldn't it be more appropriate if instead of taking down everyone's information at the door, that you take the troublemaker's info as they are being ejected and then flag them realtime on a website?


Most people are uncooperative when they are asked to leave, they aren't going to show ID upon exit.

And for those that you don't know, just start carding everyone at the door and see if their name matches the list. Save yourself some dollars by using in-house, common sense options, rather than forking out dollars to the Barwatch Corporation and making me it more difficult and more expensive for me to get drunk in your bar?


The system is only used on people that are unfamiliar to the bar security staff. "Regulars" will not be screened.

#19 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 08:30 AM

Has anyone compiled a list yet of which bars are participating?


Allow me...

Element (been in use over 3 months already)
Bar Code (been in use 2 weeks)
Plan B
Lucky Bar
Touch (former Red Jacket)
Soprano's
Upstairs Cabaret and Darcy's Pub
Social Club

In BarWatch but not using Treoscope:

Bard and Banker / Irish Times
Smith's Pub
Sugar

I might be forgetting one....

#20 ZGsta

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 10:10 AM

I can totally see this being abused by bouncers in this town.

I can't even count the number of times I've seen people tossed from bars/clubs when they weren't making trouble just because the bouncer didn't like them for any reason (or had some prejudice about the way they look/act).
So now if they don't like you or don't like the way you react to getting tossed for no reason they can ruin your night by getting you barred from everywhere else and getting you flagged as a troublemaker?

It's a good idea IN THEORY (as are so many things) but there's just way too many ways it could be abused in my opinion.
I have a really bad feeling about this.

PS: I'm not super paranoid about the privacy aspects of this, but there is some part of the back of my brain that thinks that storing data from your identification every time you go to an establishment is really wrong.

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