community-based, non-corporate, participatory media

About Contact Us Policies Mailing Lists Radio Video Publish! Calendar Search

Pittsburgh Organization Puts Area Residents' Privacy and Safety At Risk
by M Tuesday, Oct. 06, 2009 at 7:31 PM

ALL visitors to the Regional Enterprise Tower in Pittsburgh are required to have their driver’s licenses or other state identification SCANNED into a private database before proceeding onto their final destination. Why is the RET compromising citizens' rights under the guise of 'protecting security'?

Did you know that ALL visitors to the Regional Enterprise Tower in Pittsburgh are required to have their driver’s licenses or other state identification SCANNED into a private database as a condition of visiting the offices in the building?

No less an entity than the Federal Trade Commission urges Americans to protect their private information, such as that contained on a drivers license, to limit identity theft. Why, then, does the Regional Enterprise Tower compel visitors to compromise their privacy and put themselves at risk for harm and identity theft?

I find the scanning of driver’s licenses by the staff at the Regional Enterprise Tower to be an invasion of my privacy AND, as a woman, a threat to my safety. The scanning of driver’s licenses into a database is an open invitation to a HOST of problems, including identity theft.

-- What’s to stop someone with access to my name and address from coming to my home and assaulting me?

-- What’s to stop a thief with access to this database from looking up where I live on the Internet and deciding that my house is worth robbing?

-- What’s to stop a criminal from re-routing my mail (which includes credit card invoices) and having new credit cards sent to their address?

-- What’s to stop a thief from using MY driver’s license number to get a drivers license in their name??

Pennsylvania law doesn’t even require me to show a police officer my drivers license unless I’m operating a motor vehicle or under arrest. Why on earth would I freely give my private information contained on my driver’s license or state ID to a security guard to scan into a database, just so I can visit an office building???

On a recent visit to an office in the Regional Enterprise Tower, I offered the front desk guard my student ID from a local college that features my name and photograph, which he could easily use to ascertain that I am who I am, but this was not sufficient. The guard told me I would have to provide a state-issued ID on all future visits to the building.

If building management is truly concerned about the safety of the building’s occupants, they should install metal detectors, as has been done at the federal and state office buildings in Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

When I visit the state office building in Pittsburgh, or the federal office building in Pittsburgh, or for that matter most other public office buildings, these buildings DO have metal detectors, but the security guards certainly don’t shake down visitors for their driver’s licenses -- nor are visitors required to ‘sign in’.

I have contacted Sen. Arlen Specter, whose office is in this very building -- the Regional Enterprise Tower -- about this matter; his office hasn’t bothered to reply. Neither has Oxford Development, who manages the building, nor the Southwestern Pennsylvania Corporation, who owns the building. Sen. Robert Casey's office is also in the building; his staff person at least indicated she would look into it.

I realize that the concept of privacy in America is dying a slow death, and that we Americans are supposed to willingly acquiesce to the demands of anyone who wears a badge, but scanning visitors’ driver’s licenses is overkill. I really hope you will address this issue by any means possible.

PS: Please note that I have nothing to hide: I’m not running from the law, I’m not afraid of getting ‘caught’ for anything. I’m just tired of my privacy being encroached upon, and the increasing tendency of ‘those in authority’ being up our asses under the guise of ‘security’. Where does it stop?

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Privacy Concerned Nothing To See Here Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 at 2:18 AM
© 2001-2009 Pittsburgh Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not endorsed by the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center.
Disclaimer | Privacy