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Submission + - Pushing against the surveillance state, politely

davide marney writes: I was on my way to the local cineplex, thinking about the article I'd just read about how several states had worked together to amass a database of 20,000 license plates scanned with drive-by sensors. What's with that? It seems like everyone wants to get in on the surveillance party.

Everywhere you turn people are probing you, searching you, tracking you, and it's really beginning to tick me off. As I parked my car in the lot, I said to myself, "in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they start searching people in movie theaters."

Sure enough.

After paying my ticket, a security guard comes up and asks me very politely if he can search my backpack.No, I answer equally politely, you cannot.

The guard is momentarily stunned, and repeats the question. I repeat my answer. Why? he wants to know.

Because it's my stuff. I don't let people look through my stuff just because they want to. Are you telling me I can't come to this movie theater unless you look in my backpack?

Oh no, sir, I'm not saying that. Look at me, he says very sternly, eye-to-eye. I am telling you I did NOT say you have to leave the theater. Do you understand that?

Okay. So, what ARE you saying?

I'm saying that I want to look at your backpack.

Hmm. Look, I wouldn't even let the police look in my backpack unless I was being formally charged with something. Do you have a reasonable cause to suspect me of doing something wrong?

No sir, but we have "reasonable cause" to search any bag we want, because that's company policy.

Really? What are you searching for?

We're looking for drugs.
No, I don't have any drugs.

We're looking for movie cameras.
No, I don't have a movie camera.

We're looking for guns.
I CERTAINLY don't have a gun.

We're looking for glass bottles.
No, no bottles.

Look, my movie has already started. What's it going to be? Are you going to let me see this movie or not?

OK, sir, no one has ever refused to let us search a bag before. You can go this one time, but I'm putting you on notice that the next time you come here, your bag WILL be searched, and I'm going to notify the manager.

Hmm, OK. (Off I go to my seat)

10 minutes later, the manager tracks me down in the theater and basically repeats the exchange, almost verbatim. Must be something corporate sent out as a script. At one point she says, "Nobody else has a problem with this, why do you?"

Why, indeed? I'm not entirely sure. The fact that a corporate rent-a-cop can walk up to you and demand to rifle through your belongings just sticks in my craw. We can't live with this level of security. If we don't start pushing back, where will it all end?

Of course, that movie theater completely lost my business, that pretty much goes without saying. It may be their policy to look through their patron's things, but that sure doesn't mean I have to pay for the privilege.
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Pushing against the surveillance state, politely

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