ID, Surveillance, and Beer

by on July 1, 2007 · 0 comments

One of the themes I’ve been hitting a lot recently in talks on the subject is how going digital with identification is changing the meaning of being identified. IDing someone used to be a one-time interaction. It is becoming a record-keeping event.

Via Reason’s Hit and Run, here’s a story on how Tennessee is now requiring everyone to show ID to buy beer. The story shows how that’s ramping up surveillance.

There are plenty of absurdities. One is that really old people, who are obviously of-age, are having to show ID. The other – more subtle, but more important – is that people are showing ID to prove age. This violates the privacy protecting practice of “data minimization” – collecting only the information you need to serve your purpose. Tennessee law requires people to share identity information as well as age, violating the principle of data minimization daily, every time someone buys beer.

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