The mission of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is to serve the people of Texas, and protect the public health and safety, through consistent, fair and timely administration of the Alcoholic Beverage Code. According to the Legislative Budget Board‘s Fiscal Size-up, the purpose of the TABC is “to deter violations of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code by inspecting licensed establishments within the alcoholic beverage industry, investigating complaints, regulating the personal importation of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes through the state’s ports-of-entry locations with Mexico and the seaport at Galveston, and enforcing state law.”
In August of 2016, TABC released an app that “allows members of the public to do their part to promote public safety by reporting breaches of the peace and other incidents which occur inside businesses licensed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.”
The app allows the user to perform a location-based search for permit holders in various categories. Here is a screen-shot of the app as it was initially rolled out in soft public release:
The maker of the app, Neubus, highlighted its features:
- Search for Businesses – Find nearby restaurants and businesses that sell alcohol, including narrowing searches based on permit type, status (active or inactive), or business type (bar, brewery, restaurant, hotel, etc.)
- Interactive Map – See basic information such as business name, address, directions from your location and street-level view of the business.
- Pending Permits – View pending original license/permits in your area.
- Complaints – Report TABC-licensed businesses which sell after hours, to minors, or over serve; also inform the TABC about establishments condoning gambling, drug use, prostitution or human trafficking
- Feedback – Provide feedback about TABC employees and TABC certification schools
- Violation History – Identify what alcohol permit violations have occurred, including sales to minors or other violations.
TABC issues permits for certain sexually-oriented businesses in part to assist in the enforcement of laws against the sale of beer on premises where acts that are lewd, immoral, or offensive to public decency occur. However, the ability to search for the nearest sexually oriented business raised some concern among the public.
— Ellen Williams (@eclairetexas) August 25, 2016
TABC quickly responded by rolling the sexually oriented businesses into the Miscellaneous category, but without changing the icon for that category. This oversight muddled things briefly, until that oversight was corrected with the final version.