In yet another example of pervasive spying on Americans by law enforcement and big corporations, the Providence Journal reports on a newly signed agreement between Motel 6 in Warwick, R.I. and the local police force.
The company will now hand over all guest details to law enforcement on a daily basis so that they can be screened for outstanding warrants or other criminal history.
Further troubling, and possibly illegal, is that guests will not be informed that their presence at the motel is being relayed to the police.
They’ll also have no chance to ask questions, and, if they’re uncomfortable with being surveilled, take their business elsewhere.
The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is already condemning the information sharing policy; in a statement provided by email, executive director Steven Brown said “a family on vacation should not be fearful that police may come knocking on the door in the middle of the night, courtesy of the motel, because Dad has an outstanding parking ticket he never paid.”
Brown added that the ACLU is “deeply concerned about the precedent this agreement sets, for it can only embolden police to press for similar policies from other establishments.”
That's just what Motel 6 is considering at another location that’s had problems with criminal activity in the past.
Overall it seems like this is the cheap and easy way out. Rather than this deeply creepy practice of treating all of its customers like criminals, the motel’s manager could simply pay a little extra attention to his property and make sure a meth lab isn’t being operated inside.
As a reference point, when a Taco Bell gets held up, it doesn’t start making customers get background checks before they order.
When asked for comment about privacy concerns and policy details, Raiza Rehkoff, a Motel 6 spokesperson, said “we are working on our corporate response to address this topic.”
The practice may well be illegal, in the face of large retailers being sued by the FTC for tracking their shoppers without informing them and without offering an opt-out mechanism. It remains to be seen how the Motel 6 policy would be any different, other than worse.