Thursday, April 09, 2009

Nightclub’s Scanning of Driver’s Licenses Violated Alberta Privacy Law

This posting was written by Thomas A. Long, Editor of CCH Privacy Law in Marketing.

A Calgary nightclub’s collection and retention of patrons’ driver’s license information violated the Alberta Personal Information Protection Act, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has decided.

An order by the Alberta Privacy Commission that required the nightclub to destroy information gathered by scanning the driver’s licenses and to cease collecting the data was affirmed.

The order was issued after one patron complained to the Commissioner’s office about the practice and expressed concern that the information was being gathered for marketing purposes.

The nightclub operator contended that it scanned and stored images of patrons’ driver’s licenses—and the information on the licenses—in order to identify individuals who posed a security threat to and to ban them from its establishment. Collection of the information was not reasonably related to this purpose, according to the court. The nightclub operator provided no evidence as to its scanning system’s effectiveness in deterring violent behavior and enhancing the security of its staff and patrons.

Although the complainant did not ask that the nightclub be required to cease collection of driver’s license information, the Privacy Commissioner was entitled to exceed the complainant’s request for relief, the court said.

The decision is Penny Lane Entertainment Group and Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner and Engfield, CCH Privacy Law in Marketing ¶60,314.

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