Speaking of Edmonton bar violence...

Since we're on the topic, earlier in the month when a man got his nose bitten off at Bar Wild I wrote a letter to the Edmonton Journal complaining about the BarLink system (my previous rant on it available here). As is getting disturbingly common these days, no newspaper will print my letters, so as a result my anonymity is still guaranteed when I post it here:

So let me get this straight: Edmonton Police cajoles several bars into adopting "BarLink", a system based out of Vancouver which digitally records the IDs of entering patrons and saves them on the computer forever. Several bars are guilty of not informing customers their ID is about to be scanned, you cannot "opt out" and still enter the premises, and your records are given away without your consent. In addition, you cannot have your record expunged by request, and all four of the above points put BarLink at odds with existing privacy legislation. Now we find out that after the dubious collection of all this personal information, it doesn't even work! The man who bit Aaron Helferty at Bar Wild had to be scanned by BarLink, and remains at large. Bar Wild's manager told Global TV that the individual will be banned from the bar. Banned from the bar!? All of this illegality built into the system and all it ends up being capable of is the same task a photograph at the front entrance used to do? The last twelve months have shown EPS more capable at breaking laws themselves as opposed to capturing criminals. My advice to EPS is sometime in 2007, shut down BarLink and try entering the law enforcement business.
Ouch. Heavy stuff. Almost as heavy as this letter about EPS I wrote to the Edmonton SUN on the same day:
I was all excited to play Edmonton SUN's new crime investigation contest. Unfortunately, by the time I got involved in the case, Edmonton Police Services had already rounded up the suspects (and a drunk teenage girl on Whyte Avenue unrelated to the crime), handcuffed them behind their backs, smacked them in the face with batons, and repeatedly tasered them. The only evidence I found left at the crime scene was the suspects newly-emptied wallets and an opened brown paper envelope that said "ACS" on it. I guess that's why "CSI Edmonton" just wasn't ready for prime time.
And since I was on a roll, I wrote to the Globe and Mail too: that letter also never made it into the paper:
I see Arar hasn't finished making political hay out of his "ordeal", and that he's now asked the CSIS watchdog to reopen the probe to his unpleasant stay in Syria. I would like to take this time to agree that CSIS should investigate this matter further. Specifically, CSIS has never told us (possibly because unlike Arar and the U.S. State Department, they don't know) the reason Maher Arar was imprisoned by the Syrians. I know the NDP talking points hold that Damascus is a puppet agency of Dick Cheney, but the claim that state-terrorist Syria would imprison a man that the U.S. believes is a terrorist just doesn't hold water. There may be a perfectly unfair reason why Arar ended up in a Mideastern gulag (and why his Canadian buddy Ahmad Abou-ElMaati ended up in that same jail), but if there is we've still yet to hear it. Until then, I agree with Orenthal James Arar, that this investigation is not closed, and CSIS has a little more probing to do.


ABFreedom said...

Sometimes I can sympathize with enforcement, and sometimes I can't. It must create major frustration when you arrest people, only to have them let loose within an hour or so, due to our justice system. I think we have to start really going after the LIEberal judges, then break it down to enforcement officers, and others, that are not following through.

Anonymous said...

This system is or should be completely illegal.
Besides the fact that they once scanned my ID without permission, they store it and transmit it without having any government oversight as to the security and protection of the information. Why on earth would a bar bouncer need this information?

At the incident in question, I was asked for my ID to enter the club. I assumed it was to determine my age. Without any visible warning or verbal mention, the bouncer immediately took it and scanned the entire card digitally!

I got upset then, but didn’t really say anything because I heard the bars had this system to protect themselves.

I was then told it was a $10 cover charge to enter the bar, and I told them I wasn’t interested because I was going in for 10 minutes while we waited for a movie to start.

I then asked them to remove my information from their system, and they refused. I told them I wanted to speak with the manager, and the bouncer told me he was the manager. (I knew he wasn’t because he seemed to be stretching the truth about a lot of things he was saying).

As I walked out, the manager walked in and I told her I wanted my information removed from their system. She refused, and told me to leave or else they would call the police!
Needless to say, I was totally flabbergasted and felt very violated and concerned over possible identity theft.

They don’t scan it when you leave, so they don’t even know if you were even there during any sort of “incident” anyways. Had there been an incident there that night I would have been considered as a potential “suspect” even though I never set a foot into the bar!

I eventually got the number for Barlink, and sent them a request to remove my information from their system. They never responded to my request (it was over 8 months ago).

There are reports that someone high up in the Police Department has been involved or assisting this corporation in getting their systems into the bars and helping them stay out of the limelight.

Personally, I think this should be illegal, and that someone should be investigating Barlink itself (and the people helping them maintain this illegal operation), and not just one bar (the ruling and investigation so far has only been against ONE bar).

The management of Barlink has already stated that it is “business as usual” with them. They do not think there is anything wrong with what they are doing, and feel they are above the law!

Anonymous said...

i was never concerned one way or another with the practice of barlink. i very rarely go out to the kind of places that feel they need barlink systems, seeing as i have 2 toddlers and a husband to attend to. then one night a few months ago my husband and another couple went to a bar for an evening out and i didn't even know they had barlink but after a very frusterating incident that involved them giving away the credit card i had been running my tab on and not knowing who they had given it to and being very unconcerned and rude when i questioned them about their common practice with patrons credit cards, i ended up throwing my hands up in disgust at the female bartender and in the process flicking dome dampness from the bar off my hands whereafter she got a bouncer to pick me up from behind and throw me out onto the sidewalk. my husband who was outside was shocked and knocked on the front door to ask for my purse back which had been left inside in the melee and the long and short is after no violence or even impoliteness from my husband they used 5 guys and excessive force and beat him up and proceeded to moon him and give him the finger. we filed a police report and did end up getting my things back but were informed that i may be banned from barlink. recently i tried to go out for a friends birthday and when my id was scanned there popped up a whole paragragh about how i "physically assaulted a female bartender" and "assaulted a head doorman" etc. also when i went to the original establishment to try to get my ID back (which was never recovered) i was spotted by a coworker who also works there and when she saw me at our work and i explained why i was there and how unimpressed i was by their handling of the incident she said "i heard you broke a window" i didn't get to read enough of the barlink paragragh before getting the boot recently to know if that piece of misinformation is also there. in closing, not only does barlink have the authority to scan your information and keep it without your knowledge or consent, the establishments using it also have the right to say whatever they like about you and as far as i can tell there is no process to contest this.