Will Alabama alcohol regulators be the next ‘Big Brother’?

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The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC Board) is poised to adopt a new rule that feels eerily like Big Brother — wanting to know exactly who is buying beer and taking it home to drink.

More specifically, the ABC board is requiring breweries and brewpubs across the Yellowhammer State to collect the name, address, age, phone number, and date of birth from anyone who purchases beer at a brewery for off-premise consumption.

The ABC board discussed the proposed Orwellian rule at a work session earlier this month and could vote on it at its meeting Sept. 28.

The proposed rule follows a law that took effect this summer allowing the state’s craft breweries to sell six packs, growlers, and large bottles of beer directly to consumers. Prior to the bill’s passage, Alabama was the only state that banned such sales.

Already, the law limits the to-consumer sales to 288 ounces (the equivalent of a standard case of 24 bottles of 12 ounce beers) per person per day.

Which is where collecting consumer information comes in. In order to enforce the single-case restrictions, breweries and brew pubs would be required record the names, addresses, phone numbers and birth dates of customers, which they would have to report back to the ABC board each month.

Industry groups are strongly opposed to the proposed regulation, which they say is an invasion of privacy, as well as a logistical nightmare to collect the information.

Members of Free the Hops — a grassroots organization created in support of specialty, craft beer in Alabama — have spoken out, saying the new rule could infringe on consumer privacy.

“As nonsensical as it might seem, this rule would essentially empower the ABC Board to come to an individual’s house to confirm his or her purchase of a six pack of beer,” Nick Hudson, president of Free the Hops said in a statement back in August.

The Alabama Brewers Guild, composed of the state’s roughly two dozen breweries and brewpubs, said collecting the information would be an administrative nightmare and could pose concerns not just over privacy, but also about potential data breaches and governmental use of the information.

“I’m honestly not sure they thought it out very well,” said Guild Executive Director Dan Roberts.

While Alabama and other states require identification to prove the age of someone purchasing alcohol, Roberts said he knows of no other state that collects information about consumers.

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3 Comments

  1. The Department of Conservation has already implemented their “Big Brother” rule with “game check”. Big government is contagious, and Alabama republicans are growing government in leaps and bounds.

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