Saturday, May 05, 2012

Bouncers begin checking Facebook to validate IDs

As technology makes fake IDs better and better, those trying to prevent underage people from getting into bars and clubs are responding by leveraging everyone's favorite social network: Facebook.

It's an interesting development, considering the recent public outcry against employers and potential employers asking, nay demanding, passwords to Facebook accounts. Maryland recently became the first state to outlaw that practice.

What's happening, at least in parts of the U.K., is that bouncers are asking people to show them their Facebook accounts on their phones, to confirm not just thet the IDs belong to them, but that the dates on the IDs match what is on the Facebook accounts.

Naturally, it probably never occurred to these bouncers that, now that the practice has been publicized, people could start doctoring their Facebook accounts. And what, then, of people who do not have a smartphone or do not access Facebook on their device?

This is, of course, becoming a smaller part of the population, but comScore's latest report showed that only 36.1 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers accessed social networking sites or blogs, so does that mean the other 63.9 percent, or at least those who look suspiciously young, are out of luck?

Nick Pickles, from the group Big Brother Watch, which works to protect privacy and civil liberties in the U.K. said objected to the checking of Facebook accounts. He said,

"Not only is it ridiculous from a security point of view, it's an affront to the basic rights of people to be able to live their lives in private. If the problem is that people haven't got good enough quality IDs, then let's make sure they do have good enough quality IDs.

"This shouldn't be an excuse for nightclubs to snoop and pry into people's private lives."

Meanwhile, a doorman from Worthing said, "I believe the fine for letting in an underage person is £5,000. Why is it so wrong for people to have to prove the ID is actually them? If you're not doing anything wrong you shouldn't have a problem."

It's a slippery slope, however. How many times in the recent past have you heard someone say, "If you're not doing anything wrong you shouldn't have a problem?" Far too many times for you to be comfortable with, we'd bet.

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