A Motel 6 in Warwick, Rhode Island, started faxing its guest list daily to the Warwick police department, after the motel made seventy-nine calls to the police resulting in seventy-five arrests.
The police did not ask for the list; the Motel 6 in question faxed it on its own.
More below the orange surveillance fax paper.
The Providence Journal reports on police chief Stephen McCartney's decision (the whole article is at the link):
He said he was concerned about the legal ramifications of the practice, including the possibility that all or part of the list could become a public record under the state’s Access to Public Records Act. He said an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit also would have been possible.
“The information is sensitive,” McCartney acknowledged. “All we’re doing is raising a lot of eyebrows about things that we quite frankly don’t need to have.”
He said that he took into consideration a protest by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the transfer of information was an invasion of privacy. Motel 6 posted a warning in public view that the list was being provided to the police.
Apparently, Motel 6 faxing the list to the police was legal, since the police did not ask for it. The police department says it reserves the right to go to the motel and check the guest register when it suspects criminal activity, but will no longer accept Motel 6's daily lists.
So remember, Motel 6 will leave the light on for you, and tell the police you are staying there, whether you are guilty of anything or not. Without a public apology from Motel 6's corporate offices, I am done with them.
I can understand Motel 6 trying to reduce crime at its locations; any business would want to do that. However, enacting what is essentially a corporate meta-data collection programme for the police (especially when the police did not ask for it) is disturbing.