The Entertainment Consumer Association (ECA) has issued an alert concerning a proposal before the Madison (Wisconsin) City Council that would force second-hand resellers to out sellers personal information in a database that local police would have access to. Obviously this is not a good idea - even in the name of tracking down criminals who steal and receive various goods - usually to fuel some type of addiction. The ECA's letter to members follows:
"A proposed Madison city ordinance to catch addicts and crooks attempting to sell stolen items to secondhand stores and pawn shops would also lead to an overarching reach into the privacy of innocent individuals.
The ordinance, which will be considered in October, would require a photo and other personal information about anyone who sold an item to a business to be kept on hand by businesses for six months. There are so many things disturbing about this.
There are serious civil liberties issues, as the government would be able to see what video games and movies we use and sell. Further, there is no provision insuring that the collected information will not be shared with third-parties.
While it’s understandable that the police and government want to do everything they can to prevent the selling of stolen goods, those steps should be done without trampling on our civil rights and privacy."
A link to take action offers a form letter that you can send to the Madison City Council expressing your disdain:
Subject: I don’t want Big Brother Knowing My Gaming Habits
I am writing to you today about the proposed city ordinance that would require photos and other personal information about anyone who sells an item to a business. While I understand that the goal is to catch thieves and prevent the selling of stolen goods, what it does is make those of us who have done nothing wrong feel like Big Brother government is watching and it’d penalize those of us without photos.
A large segment of video games sales is in the second hand market. Many of these are sold to stores by children who don’t have photo identification and whose age makes it rather questionable to hand over their addresses to strangers. This vital part of the industry could grind to a halt in the area and in dry up a much needed revenue stream for businesses and video game players.
The idea of a database of my video game and movie interests also bothers me. I don’t believe the government has any interest in knowing my entertainment consumption habits. The information would be entered into a database which has no restrictions as to how it’s used. Profiling and data transfer could easily occur without checks and balances.
Crime and theft are horrible things, but trying to prevent it by trampling on the civil liberties and privacy of innocent constituents is not the way to do it. While I may not be a criminal, this ordinance makes me feel like one. If you have any questions on this or other similar issues please contact Jennifer Mercurio, the Entertainment Consumers Association’s Director of Government Affairs, at Jenn@theECA.com. Thank you for your time and consideration.
[Full disclosure: GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]