Creepy County Officials Stalk Grocery Shoppers in Search for Unlicensed Pets
When collectivists get their way, life gets complicated. And over time, even expensive.
The movement to ensure pets are properly taken care of has created a nightmare to some residents in Seattle, Washington, to the point that their privacy is now at risk.
According to Komo News, thousands of pet owners in the county are receiving letters from local officials telling them to license their pets. The letter adds that, if they do not comply, they could face a 250 fine.
For the last four years, King County officials have been using the data gathered by the company paying stores such as Safeway and QFC, a supermarket chain based in Bellevue, Washington, to have access to customer data registered in their system every time consumers use a reward swipe card. By having access to this data, King County officials have access to information on what these consumers are purchasing, making pet owners an easy target of local authorities.
When thousands of residents received this letter, many felt officials were “snooping around in a place where they shouldn’t be.”
But according to representatives from the local Animal Services, this is just a “standard marketing practice.”
But should government have access to this information?
To defend their actions, local officials claim residents are being made aware of the requirements and benefits associated with pet licensing. But to companies like Safeway, the county’s approach is wrong and in the long run, it might even cost them business considering the company promises its customers it does not give their data to third parties.
Last year, this sneaky practice helped county officials bring in $100,000 in new pet license revenue. But at what cost? Data on how much King County pays third parties for customer information doesn’t seem to be factored in, and with what pet owners pay the county yearly to keep their pets licensed, they could be instead investing in other much more necessary pet-related purchases.
As far as the privacy issue is concerned, the fact that a county official has access to your grocery list opens up your private life to further scrutiny. Instead of minding their own business, officials might soon be using this privilege to target you for other products you purchase regularly, going as far as using this access to help piece together criminal enterprises that never took place.
In the great haystack of data, officials end up targeting innocent individuals at time, wasting taxpayer-backed resources just like mass online surveillance does.