Invading your Privacy

Every morning here at home I drive into town to a little convenience store for my morning coffee and various supplies.  I like the people there. It’s a small town. We all know each other, or at least we all run into each other from time to time among the tourists.  This little store is super busy – it’s the first gas and food stop on your way out of or into the State park just a few hundred yards up the road.

They’ve been installing a new computer system at the store.  It’s been quite the topic of conversation among us ‘natives.’  Some places in town still only take cash, so you understand we’re not exactly in Silicon Valley up here, even though we’re literally only 30 minutes away from it.  This is not a town full of non-tech-savvy dummies.  I’m not the only person up here who spent more than 30 years in that pit of security despair and privacy hell.

So, when I asked to buy my usual cigarettes, and the clerk asked to computer scan my Driver’s License, I refused. Clearly I’m over 18. He was surprised.

“Do you mean you won’t buy them if I ask for your ID?”

“No.  I won’t buy them if you scan my license into your point of sale system.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means it is illegal to ask me for personal ID information that you are going to store in a computer without disclosing to me first where that info is going, who your data sharing partners are, and who is going to see that info.  It means you don’t get to tie my personal ID with a purchase of a regulated substance with a drug classification and federal label attached to it without a non-disclosure form.  Particularly, it means that DOJ and DOC do not get to collect or have access to my personal info linked to vice purchases for future profiling.”

Today, while waiting to check out with my coffee, a young man ahead of me was being carded for his cigarette purchase.  He was hesitating and starting to protest.  The clerk was completely unsympathetic, and of course, there was nothing he could really do – he’s just doing his job.

I interrupted – get over it, yeah I’m one of those people – and asked the young man if he was questioning the new ID scanning policy. He confirmed it.  I voiced my own concerns in a supporting tone.  It got the attention of every person in the store.  Not intending originally to cause a scene, and seeing the clerk’s discomfort start to rise, I left the store.

While getting into my car, no less than 4 of the 10 or so people who had just witnessed what I had said and done, came to me at my car and thanked me for speaking up and speaking out about the new policy.  They wanted to know more.  I passed out cards.  I invited them to contact me – “let’s talk about filing a class-action lawsuit!”  I’m hoping I get some calls.

invading privacyMake no mistake about what is happening here.  Make no mistake about the fact that people are noticing.  Realize they don’t like it.  They’re not comfortable with not being anonymous in their day to day world.  They don’t like the idea of some company making choices for them based on their buying cigarettes on a Saturday morning in far off California, by a State park, with an energy drink, and a morning coffee.  They’re not thrilled about opening their social media account or turning on their TV to sudden ads about stopping smoking; the joys of coffee of a more expensive variety, or the local “Monster” special event at the sports arena.   I don’t want to know.  I want to make up my own mind.  I want to look for my own things to do.  I want to stay focused on what is important – not to what is important to the ease, efficiency and profit of a soulless company who bottles water and vitamins in a can and calls it a “day of excitement at our Monster Truck rally.”

Either we all start smoking; we all stop; or we reclaim ownership of our personal lives and privacy from these thieves who plunder resources for profit and nefarious gain. Anyone interested in joining a class action suit?