Texas County's 'Snitch Site' Telling People to Report Non-Compliant Businesses Received 450 Reports In 1 Day, Judge Says

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A Houston judge’s “snitch” website asking people to report their neighbors for not “social distancing” has already received more than 450 reports of business violations – and thousands of complaints.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo caught national attention Monday after tweeting out a form residents could fill out to report businesses that allegedly aren’t complying with the governor’s closure order. 

“See a restaurant at full capacity? Businesses open that shouldn’t be? Help us save lives,” Hidalgo wrote. 

“If you see violations of Governor Abbott’s order, please report them,” she added, linking to an online report form where snitches can anonymously accuse a business of being open when they shouldn’t be, or operating at a higher capacity than is currently “allowed” for our own good by the benevolent state.
 


Categories for which a person can report a business include “Massage establishment, tattoo studio, piercing studio, cosmetology salons, and barber shops taking customers” and “Bars not selling food open and operating.” Businesses can also be turned in for having “more than 25 percent occupancy in facility.”

The form also lists types of businesses that aren’t permitted by the government to be open.

Hidalgo’s office said that in the first 24 hours of the online portal being up online, they’ve already received more than 450 reports of violations.

Unfortunately for Hidalgo, her snitch request on Twitter has gotten more than 450 responses – in fact, it’s gotten 25,000 and climbing, most of them complaints. 

 


Nothing in Hidalgo’s tweet or the online tattle-tale form gives details as to how the county will handle the complaints or follow up with reports. In the absence of proof that a business was violating the rule, anonymous reports will be hard to deal with legally, one legal analyst said, adding that such a reporting tool could easily be used to destroy one’s competition or damage a business over an old grudge.

From KPRC in Houston:

“Due process requires that you literally catch someone in the act and unless some is there with a webcam or their cellphone and they can show that in fact a violation has occurred I can assure you that there is no way any purported violation particularly one that’s not reported contemporaneously with contemporaneous proof is ever going to make it past the ‘why are we doing this’ stage,” [KPRC legal analyst Brian] Wice said.

Wice worries the site might become a tool to try and damage a business’s reputation.

“We can’t look beyond the fact that some people might utilize this to settle old scores or people who might find themselves informing on a competitor,” Wice said.

 

 

 

 

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