The practice of scanning people’s driver’s licences before they’re allowed into bars and nightclubs is illegal, the province’s privacy commissioner ruled yesterday.

The Barwatch program, which is widely used in Vancouver, scans customers’ personal identification to keep out known gang members and criminals.

David Loukidelis ruled the program violates British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act after a patron at Wild Coyote on South West Marine Drive complained.

The man said he didn’t receive “a reasonable explanation for why his personal information was being collected.”

“I am well aware of, indeed share, public concern about gang violence,” Loukidelis said in his ruling.
He said he objected to the way personal information is being retained by bars and nightclubs. He “strongly encouraged” Barwatch to review — not abandon — its practices, to comply with the province’s Personal Information Protection Act.