Mash's Musings

Cafe privacy

Published Jan. 10, 2021

You ease into your booth for a cup of coffee with friends. It took a bit of convincing to get people to switch cafes but you’re finally here: WhatsCup. You’re aware of all the cameras overhead watching your every move and you know it’s still owned by Facebucks, the same parent company as the last cafe, but hey, at least the cameras here are closed-circuit and there are no hidden microphones at the tables. It’s to help serve you better you’re reassured.

“Another iced WhatsFrapp with the whip cream on the side?”, the barista asks.

You nod suspiciously; they’ve been tracking your purchases. But hey, it makes for more personalized service and at least there are no god damn mics at the table.

A few months pass and you catch a glimpse of a new notice by the entrance. Starting next month, all the footage and data will be shared with the rest of Facebucks. Who you talk to, when you visit, what you ordered — everything is now shared. There's no mention of an opt out. And what about the armies of third-parties Facebucks is affiliated with? You have to squint to read the fine print. It’s all shared with third parties as well. All to help serve you better you’re reassured. “Your privacy is our priority” it states boldly.

“Didn’t I say no to this a few years back? What about the the sign reading ‘You control your privacy’?”, you ask.

You think you hear the camera overhead zoom in a little but you’re not sure.

“Management”, the barista shrugs apologetically, “Can I get you another iced WhatsFrapp?”

You look down the street at Sig & Nal’s. It’s a nonprofit with a 4.8 star rating and prides itself on just serving you and your friends coffee by donation; no cameras, no tracking. They even have the building plans available for anyone to verify.

You look back at your friends settling into the usual booth, unfazed, and the sea of cameras silently watching overhead. What do you do?