February 07, 2004

Drinking Away Your Privacy

Think you can escape the conspiracy by getting liquored up?

Think again.

After a long, hard day of doing whatever the hell it is you do all day, it sure is nice to be able to sit down at your local watering hole and knock back a few cold ones. But beware: Wired News reports that bars and restaurants around the country are using electronic ID scanners to collect marketing data on everyone who steps up to the bar. This marketing data could include such deeply private information as:

1. Your age.
2. What kind of beer you like to drink.
3. What foods you like to eat.

If this continues, we can imagine a nightmare world in which restaurants recommend menu items to patrons based on their beverage choices, or - even more horrifyingly - beverages based on their menu selections! Dammit, when I order a Guinness at a bar, is it too much for me to expect to be able to enjoy it in peace, without some art school reject waiter pestering me about the triple-fried Mozzarella Stix that he "just knows I'm gonna love!!!", because 43% of males aged 25-52 who order Guinness at 6:23 on a Thusday night like to eat fried cheese?

This is why I mostly drink alone. At home. In the dark. Totally nude. But I digress.

If you must drink in public, Circling the Square recommends that you always carry a fake ID. And when we say you should carry a fake ID, we mean you should carry many fake IDs. One ID doesn't cut it... it's too easy to trace back to you. Personally, I carry between 25-50 fake IDs with me at all times. AT ALL TIMES. I also carry a forged passport, a sweater with someone else's monogram, and a free cappuccino punch card registered to someone named "Samir". You just can't be too careful.

Fake IDs, however, may not be enough. Even if the data doesn't get traced back to you personally, your food and drink purchases will still be used to establish a profile. That profile will be sold to marketing agencies around the world, who in turn will use it to sell god only knows what to god only knows whom. If you don't want to be a part of this, there is only one thing to do: generate false data. For instance, let's say you are an urban hipster who likes to go to trendy bars and drink premium scotch. You should go to T.G.I.Fridays once a week and order a Zima. If you are a vegan, order red meat a few times a month. Allergic to shellfish? Order the shrimp special! Your friends may laugh at you... they may think you've lost your mind, but don't let that stop you. Poisoning your own data stream is an easy and fun way to screw the big market research companies. Do it today!

Posted by scola at February 7, 2004 02:53 AM