Wine vending machine will be a gold mine of data for government

In the lastest example of Americans’ willingness to trade privacy for convenience, wine drinkers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are purchasing bottles of wine from computerized vending machines.  Were this simply a matter of putting your money in the machine, selecting the bottle of wine you wish to purchase, touching a button and then retrieving the bottle of fermented grape nectar that suits your palate, it would hardly be problematic.  In fact, because Pennsylvania has some of the most complex and restrictive alcohol-purchasing laws  in the country, it would be a great way to empower citizens to exercise what should be an un-fettered right to puchase whatever wine they want whenever they want. 

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.  In order to purchase that bottle of wine from the new, state-of-the-art electronic merchant in Pennsylvania, you have to not only pay for the wine, but also:  (1) swipe your driver’s license, (2) submit to having the machine take your photo, and (3) blow into the machine so it can determine your blood alcohol level.  Thus is created a record in a database accessible to, if not controlled by the government, linking your simple purchase of a bottle of wine to:  (1) all the data contained in your driver’s license, (2) a digitized photograph of the person using the machine, and (3) the blood-alcohol level of that person at the date and time he or she bought the bottle of wine.  If something is amiss in all that –  even if a result of a mistake on the part of the machine — it will be a simple matter for the authorities to come after you. 

Hopefully, the wine you will have purchased and preferably had the chance to enjoy, will have been worth the loss of privacy to which you consented at the time of purchase.

56 comments Add your comment

Lazy Media

July 19th, 2010
6:51 am

You can’t compare something like this in Japan to doing it in the U.S. If a teenager or a drunk person bought from the machine (and without the driver’s license and breathalyzer requirements, they certainly would), and wound up in a fatal car wreck, the lawsuits would wipe out every cent the state ever made on selling from the machine (which is an after-hours convenience made attractive by Pennsylvania’s silly booze laws). In Japan, it is extremely difficult to sue anyone, let alone the government, so it’s not an issue. If you think JAPAN believes in privacy and freedom more than our society, you’re nuts. I probably wouldn’t buy from such a machine, because it is intrusive, but it’s not set up that way for no reason or because of creeping Orwellism.

Lazy Media

July 19th, 2010
6:53 am

P: 99 percent of the attempts to reduce privacy come from private corporations, particularly the financial and insurance companies, who are trying to get the information to rig the bets they make with us. The government is the least of our worries,

cheers

July 19th, 2010
6:57 am

Eric – entering in your zip code at a gas pump is to verify that the card you are using is not a fake/hi-jacked credit card. It has nothing to do with wanting to know where you live.

PA’s laws are backassward just like North Carolina or any state for that matter that has the wonderful ABC govt run liquor stores. I remember a quote from a NC legislator once that pretty much summed it up. “We have the highest prices on liquor in the country and frankly we’re quite proud of it. It keeps liquor purchases low and gives us the highest revenues”

I owned a liquor store in N Georgia and Georgia has some stupid antiquated laws, but PA and NC and other states that have ABC are just ridiculas.

I wouldnt have a problem scanning the ID to buy out of a vending machine. I’d just have the DD blow in the straw.

Eric

July 19th, 2010
10:17 pm

kevin.bacon — Of course I have to enter my zip code just because I’m using a credit card. Until recently that wasn’t necessary. But the point is, I was never asked if I wanted that feature. The answer is no. I do not feel safer giving out data randomly to a machine. I may very well switch to cash, as you suggest. Thank God not everything has gone totally paperless!!

rawmilkdrinker

July 20th, 2010
6:12 am

As I said before, use the zipcode for CIA headquarters in Langly (22101). If you don’t like that one then use the Whitehouse zipcode, 20500
Of course if you read the agreements between Visa,Mastercard,Discover, and Am Express you will find that merchants are in violation of agreements by requiring additional ID for in person purchases with a credit card.

sharkey

July 26th, 2010
7:01 pm

PROGRESS NEVER HURTS, BUT THIS IS LOCO. FIRST NOBODY WANTS TO BLOW AT A MACHINE TO PURCHASE WINE. SECOND THERE IS NO SECURITY W/ A HUMAN SAYING YOU CAN OR CAN’T PURCHASE BECAUSE HE OR SHE DECIDES IF YOU ARE THE SAME PERSON IN FRONT OF MACHINE COMPARED TO THE ID THAT JUST GOT SCANNED. WHAT IS WRONG W/ BIOMETRICS. A LOT LESS DISCRIMINATING ( SINCE WE ALREADY SCANNED OUR LICENSE ) MUCH MORE PRACTICAL. AND WHY SUPERMARKETS..THIS IS MORE IDEAL FOR A BYOB RESTAURANT. JUST AT THOUGHT.