When people from out of town come to visit, they usually ask why there are so many liquor stores in Louisville. I’m used to explaining our blue laws by now. Compared to a state like Missouri, Kentucky is fairly strict. But compared to Pennsylvania, Kentucky seems downright lenient.

From Boing Boing:

Pennsylvania is sometimes referred to as “East Utah” in regards to its legendarily restrictive alcohol laws. Where else in the United States were you forced to buy a minimum of 24 beers from a ‘Beer Distributor’ if you wanted to take a drink home? Until recently, one could buy no beer from grocery stores or gas stations–just bars (and bar prices) or a box of two dozen from the nearest opaque-windowed distributor.

As Pennsylvania loosens up on its laws, some grocery stores are getting into the act. Giant Eagle and Wegmans now sell beer at a couple of Pennsylvania stores, albeit in restrictive “pseudo-bars” housed within the big box. Shop-N-Save is not far behind. They are glad to tell you that they aren’t a grocery store, but a bar that is within a grocery store. This semantic dance upsets the beer distributors.

But Giant Eagle and Wegmans’ policy for selling beer in Pennsylvania is raising a few concerns. The store (not the state) requires customers to scan their ID before buying alcohol.

I asked at the store if they could simply type in my date of birth into the system, and they said no. I raised privacy concerns and was told that “if you want your beer, you scan your ID.” Their policy is not to check 100% of IDs, it is to scan 100% of the IDs. Therein lies a problem: there is much more than my date of birth on my ID.

I called the Giant Eagle corporate office and was met with friendly assurance that they only collect and store this information to ‘protect themselves’ from lawsuits. I requested that they call me back and tell me what information they actually store and have not heard back from them. I think they are afraid to tell me what they keep, so I thought I would look into it myself.

While retailers are clearly not interested in identity theft, I do believe they have not thought through the possible consequences of gathering and retaining such wide-ranging data about their customers.

The author of the post isn’t able to get confirmation on how the data from scanned IDs is stored, used and shared. What do you think? Is this an invasion of privacy or a surefire way to keep alcohol away from minors?

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