from the corporate-suckup dept
The Third Party Doctrine is ridiculous. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies routinely exploit this loophole to warrantlessly access all sorts of data because of the stupid assertion that anything you "voluntarily" turn over to a third party carries no expectation of privacy. The agencies blow right past the reality of the situation: that any "voluntary" exchange of personal data for services is anything but voluntary. Service providers won't provide you with an internet connection or cell phone service without collecting massive amounts of usage data. Hotels and motels won't rent you a room unless you tell them who you are and provide documentation to back up your claims.
So, it's stupid all over and no one's in any hurry to fix it because drugs need to be warred against and terrorists must be handcrafted by FBI undercover agents and the rest of whatever. The courts have generally refused to stretch the Fourth Amendment to cover the data created by these involuntary exchanges. That's a problem and one that is only very slowly being addressed.
Motel 6 has just decided to make it worse. While warrantless access to motel records is being challenged in the Supreme Court, the chain has decided to preemptively strip away any privacy expectations that may result from court rulings and just hand it all over to law enforcement because sometimes criminals stay in motel rooms.
City police have arrested four people staying at the Motel 6 on Jefferson Boulevard as a result of the hotel chain's agreement to provide police with a daily guest list, Mayor Scott Avedisian said Tuesday.Everything about this is pure bootlicking dickishness. See if you can finish reading this statement without looking for something to wipe all the "smug" off you.
The names of Motel 6 guests, which police then check for outstanding warrants, is one of five steps Motel 6 corporate managers agreed to take in response to a string of high-profile incidents and concerns the establishment was becoming a haven for passing criminals.
"We know everyone who is staying in the hotel tonight," [Mayor Scott] Avedisian said in a phone interview after a meeting with Motel 6 executives that also included Warwick police chief Col. Stephen M. McCartney and Seekonk, Mass., Town Administrator Shawn E. Cadime.Great. And that's your business why? Oh, because some arrests were made. A modicum of successful law enforcement cures all privacy ills, etc.
Motel 6's spokesmouths aren't exactly coming across as champions of the people either.
As of now, guests who check-in at Warwick’s Motel 6 will not be told their names are on a list that goes to the police station every night.Now that Motel 6 has stepped up to serve as a purveyor of moderately-priced rooms and a fully compliant police informant, law enforcement's foot is completely wedged in the door between room rentals and personal privacy. Mayor Avedisian plans to use Motel 6's kowtowing as leverage against other hotels and motels in the area.
Alerting motel guests that local police know their whereabouts "is not a normal process of our check-in,” said Victor Glover, a vice president of safety and security for G6 Hospitality, the parent company for Motel 6. “I don’t know that we have any plans of instituting that as we move forward.”
Avedisian said now that Motel 6 has agreed to share its national "do not rent" list of problem guests, he intends to reach out to the Rhode Island Hospitality Association to see if other establishments in the city would be willing to do the same.I have no problem with private businesses maintaining lists of customers they won't do business with and passing on this information to police if the list contains suspected criminals. But that's miles away from what Motel 6 has agreed to do -- hand over information on everybody who rents a room before the police even ask for it. That's just begging for a lawsuit.
The Warwick police chief says his department never demanded this level of compliance. This was Motel 6's own offering in response to a couple of high profile sex trafficking arrests and pressure from the city, which threatened it with lawsuits and additional regulation. Rather than recognize it as the sort of unfortunate thing that happens from time to time and just move on, Motel 6's execs decided the solution was to fax over a list of guests every evening. The police have no idea on what sort of privacy protections it will put into force -- if anything. Police Chief Stephen McCartney has passed the buck to the state attorney general... as if that mainly-prosecutorial office is going to issue tough restrictions on data retention or meaningful privacy protections.
The Third Party Doctrine is already terrible enough. What it doesn't need is do-gooders like Motel 6 erasing what minimal line there is between its customers' data and law enforcement.