Woman questions why she was denied entry, had phone checked at Halifax bar

A British woman who was denied entry to a Halifax bar over the weekend is wondering why staff looked at her social media accounts after refusing to accept multiple pieces of identification.

Georgia Hirst, of North Yorkshire, England, who's visiting her aunt in Halifax for a couple of weeks, said she and her cousin tried to go to the Halifax Alehouse on Saturday night.

But she said the bouncers told her she didn't look like the photo on her driver's licence and passport, which show she is 19.

"[He] asked for my ID, and then he said, 'Do you have anything else?' So I gave him my passport, and then they said, 'Do you have anything else?'" said Hirst.

"So I gave them a credit card, and then they asked to see my Snapchat and my Facebook."

Hirst wasn't sure if door security may have been thrown off by the fact that her identification was British.

She also alleges that she was asked to make a "crazy-eyed face" to better resemble the photo on her driver's licence.

Google Street View

After she showed the bouncers her Snapchat and Facebook profiles, Hirst and her cousin were turned away from the bar anyway.

"[I felt] a bit shocked, to be honest," she said. "That's enough [ID], I think, to show that it is me."

In an email, provincial spokesperson Lisa Jarrett clarified the rules surrounding acceptable forms of identification.

While the province's Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco Division accepts U.K. passports and government-issued identification, Jarrett said "each establishment has to make their own decision on whether they are satisfied with the identification they are presented."

'Common practice'

Alehouse management did not respond to requests for an interview, but a staff member contacted by CBC said checking someone's phone is "common practice" when their identification can't be otherwise validated.

David Fraser, a privacy lawyer with McInnes Cooper, said he had never heard of such a practice in bars.

He said he was concerned by the implications of a bar asking for peoples' social media details to verify their identification.

"It sounds like what their position is that, 'We couldn't validate her ID, and therefore we looked for corroborating information on her phone to confirm that the ID was hers,' or something else like that," he said. 

"That seems incredibly weak to me in a whole bunch of ways. If you have bouncers who can't identify and use a United Kingdom passport, then you don't have competent bouncers."

Submitted by Georgia Hirst/Bex Saunders

Fraser said door security should receive better training on how to properly identify foreign ID cards and passports, especially given Halifax's reputation as a tourist city.

"If they think that they have to resort to this in order to determine somebody's identity, then they need to be much more careful about the training of their employees," he said.

In the end, Hirst said she and her cousin went to another bar, which accepted her driver's licence.