Op-Ed: Privacy Is Not What It Used to Be

Hunters Nightclub. Photo via Hunters Wilton Manors, Facebook.

Once again, our Wilton Manors columnist Sal Torre has tripped off his surfboard. These are not the times to wind up in the waterways of Greater Fort Lauderdale, where there is more sewage than an oil spill — which brings us to Sal’s column in the last issue of Wilton Manors Gazette.

Overall, Sal penned a decent and thoughtful piece, expressing a legitimate concern over the diminution of privacy rights impacting our society. He is right. We are losing it, inch by inch, day by day, and it sucks.

According to Donald Trump, you need a driver’s license to buy milk at Winn Dixie. However, we have learned over the course of three years that Chief Orange Hair and the Oval Office has a pension for embellishment, doesn’t it? 

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Our SFGN columnists, excellent wordsmiths though they may be, sometimes suffer the same misfortune. Not me, of course. I am the Chosen One, blessed with perfection and modesty.

Anyway, two weeks ago, Mr. Torre suggested, and all but called out Hunters for perhaps storing your data off your driver’s license as they swipe it for entry into their club.

As their lawyer, let me answer that for you. No, they do not. 

The scanner Hunters uses does not store your information. They ensure its authenticity.

At their own expense, Hunters contracts, as any nightclub could, with a private company that uses magnetic readers to validate your identity and make your night out safer.

As Mr. Torre suggests in his column, any bar can simply employ doorman to visually check ID’s. Many still do. We all understand this may not be a problem in the Manors, because of its older clientele.

The reality though is that there are 50 states that issue multiple forms of ID cards and driver’s licenses. As a tourist destination, even more forms of ID than that are used in South Florida, home of every scam in the world. How reliable is any cursory eyeball review of your ID going to be?

Hunters uses a modern tool that protects your safety while jealously guarding supervision over their alcohol and beverage license. The ID scanners have extremely bright displays and speed your entry. Customers coming in and out of a club nightly don’t want to wait on long lines.

The future is upon us. Like Hunters, more and more public facilities will be employing modern technologies to ensure that your identity has not been stolen on one hand, and that you are who you say you are on the other. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

ID scans do a little bit more than discourage underage drinking. They are tools which are likely to reduce pickpocketing in bars by authenticating the actual identities of persons entering the establishment.  

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My best guess is that scanners will prevent con artists from trying to parade around with stolen identification after you have so reported it. That also cuts down on potential identity theft, as well.

Troublemakers that are trespassed from a club once will be kept from coming back in. Besides, club owners know that 95% of all incidents evolve from misbehavior by 1% of the patrons. So this tool can even make your night out more secure.

Let’s face the way our world is headed. There are scanners in court houses, airports, high schools and sports stadiums. There are cameras at every bank ATM, and on public roadways. Big Brother is everywhere. 

Sooner than we think, we will all be implanted with a microchip, given a country code, a DNA card, and a MAGA hat at birth. You don’t have to worry about a carnival barker guessing your weight. It will be calculated every time you step into an airplane.

Ambulance drivers won’t be going looking for an unreadable bracelet on your wrist to see if you are on insulin. They will scan your arm and know instantly your medical history. The future George Orwell foresaw in 1984 is here. Get used to it.

Last month, I got blown away by an email from Netflix, the movie service I pay $17 a month for the privilege of almost never watching. I recently disappointed them, and here’s how.

After seeing the lead actress win a Golden Globe for her dramatic performance in “The Crown,” I viewed a few episodes of the series with my subscription. 

The show was not bad, but I forgot all about it. I suppose I got distracted writing columns like this one. So it goes — or so I thought.

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Last week, Netflix sent me an email reminding me I had not finished viewing the series, "The Crown.” The note urged me to come back and finish watching it. Now my television is watching me. 

“Crown this,” I thought.

My Apple Watch measures my blood pressure. Moments after I read the note from Netflix, it soared, and that was without eating the Ring Dings I had by my side. 

I am not sure those 10 feet of receipts they give you at CVS are not already computer-tailored to your buying habits. That must be why they always offer me discounts on jelly beans.

Privacy does not exist anymore the way boomers once knew it. Friends you went to high school with 59 years ago can find you on Facebook in 50 seconds.  

We also took Driver’s Ed classes in high schools. Today’s students must take active shooter drills. We worried about a drunk throwing up at a bar. Today, we must worry about a maniac with an AR-15. 

It’s a different world we live in, Master Jack.

As the Little Prince said, “So it goes.”

 

 


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