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    Times UK: Are hotels keeping records on you?

    The Times UK found some interesting facts when it surveyed hotels in the UK:

    Hoteliers across Britain this week told Times Travel that they keep files [on hotel guests] to help to improve service, but data protection regulators believe that many hotel-users would feel uncomfortable about such information being held.

    […]

    Information stored includes marital status, number of children, age, nationality, home town, pastimes and occupation. Some hotels store names of guests’ overnight companions and dining companions, whether they are heavy drinkers, have been rude or polite, whether they have paid for “adult films”, and whether they have used drugs or taken part in “immoral activities” such as using prostitutes.

    Less sensitive records are kept of interests such as favourite sports, films, plays, books and newspapers. Hotels use internet searches and information gleaned by staff to form files that are distributed to doormen, receptionists, waiters and chambermaids – usually with downloaded pictures.

    This surreptitious data collection and retention could violate the country’s Data Protection Act, says the Information Commissioner’s Office.

    This is a disturbing revelation. I would be upset to learn if a hotel surreptitiously built a dossier on me. I would never give consent for such a dossier; I’d choose privacy over individualized service. From the Times UK report, it is unclear if any customer is giving consent – it seems merely presumed that if you choose to stay at a hotel, then you give its staff the right to investigate and collect data on you.

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