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Privacy at Dunkin Donuts
Wow, this is good to know...
: Date: Thu, 26 May 1994 20:28:22 -0400
: From: dartvax!coos.dartmouth.edu!mozart (Sting)
: Subject: P: Scary...
: This is pretty scary, I think...I had to read it twice before I could accept
: that it wasn't a joke...
: CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- At some Dunkin' Donuts, the walls have
: So the next time you settle down over coffee and a cruller to
: trade gossip with a friend, keep in mind that hidden microphones
: may be recording the dirt you dish.
: Manager Tony Wright insists he's not being nosy. It's just
: another way to increase security and keep employees on their toes,
: he said. He would never listen to customer conversations, he said.
: ``Do you think I would waste my time?'' said Wright, who manages
: five Dunkin' Donuts in Concord.
: Use of concealed recorders is widespread at fast-food
: restaurants, convenience stores and other businesses, according to
: one company that sells them.
: But unlike anti-shoplifting mirrors and surveillance cameras
: seen throughout retail America these days, hidden microphones are
: news to most of the public, judging from interviews Thursday at two
: microphone-equipped Dunkin' Donuts in New Hampshire's capital.
: ``Knowing this, I would never have a conversation in here,''
: said customer Frank Bowser, a private investigator who was
: discussing a case with a partner. ``I think the general public
: would be in an uproar to know that every time they come in for a
: cup of coffee and a doughnut they could be heard.''
: Other customers, including Nick and Thalia Hondrogen, said they
: were more offended by cigarette smoke than listening devices.
: Nonetheless, they were surprised.
: ``It's like spying. It sounds like Nazism or the KGB. It's not
: American,'' Hondrogen said. ``Many times you say things to close
: friends you don't want overheard.''
: The systems also were news -- unwelcome, at that -- at Dunkin'
: Donuts corporate headquarters in Randolph, Mass.
: Any system powerful enough to record customers' conversations
: would be ``highly inappropriate'' and a violation of company
: policy, spokesman Bill Chiccarelli said.
: Still, store owners are using them. Security systems dealer Jeff
: Meuse told the Concord Monitor he has installed systems in 500
: Dunkin' Donuts in Massachusetts in the last five years; of those,
: 300 had audio monitoring.
: Shops that have the monitoring systems display small stickers on
: their doors saying, ``Audio monitoring on the premises.''
: All but the loudest customers are safe with many systems. At one
: Dunkin' Donuts, Wright demonstrated that a customer standing at the
: counter below the single mike in the ceiling had to speak loudly
: and distinctly to be heard above the din of coffee grinders, staff
: and general restaurant noise.
: The systems can be far more sophisticated, however. Lewis Weiss,
: chief executive officer of Louroe Electronics Inc. of Van Nuys,
: Calif., said his company's systems can pick up conversations within
: 30 feet.
: ``Unfortunately, this is going to be the future until we get to
: the point where there is minimal crime in this country,'' Weiss
: said. ``Until then, store owners are going to have to have these
: devices to protect their employees and their customers.''
: The American Civil Liberties Union grudgingly accepts
: surveillance cameras and audio equipment at store and restaurant
: cash registers, providing customers and staff are notified.
: ``We would prefer not to see them at all, but if and when it
: does happen, we would strongly (want) there to be actual and
: functional notification,'' ACLU spokesman Milind Shah said in New
: York. ``Often a sign on the door is not enough.''
: Federal law requires stores to post signs informing customers
: they might be monitored, and customers should take notice, Weiss
: ``There is no invasion of privacy in a public store like a
: Circle K or a Dunkin' Donuts because you can't carry on a private
: conversation there,'' he said.
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