Vice News revealed the details of a confidential database that banks, employers and others use to blacklist customers.
The World-Check database also includes major charities, activists, and mainstream religious institutions under its category of “terrorism.”
The confidential service claims it is used by over 300 government and intelligence agencies, 49 of the 50 biggest banks, pre-employment vetting agencies and 9 of the top 10 global law firms. It says it provides “an early warning system for hidden risk.
The database now lists more than 2.7 million individuals and entities spanning a variety of categories. Since 2007, the number of terror entries has risen fivefold.
But don’t worry (too much) about snagging the wrong bad guy — the tool’s website claims “in many cases, false positives have been reduced from 30 to 15 percent.”
In addition to those individuals on the blacklist, the database also boasts that for each person listed, they also include their immediate relatives and associates.
And this is handy — the database’s “Early Warning System” includes persons who are “pre-conviction.” In other words, people who have not been found guilty of any crime.
World-Check claims to be an impartial resource. However, critics argue this claim is at odds with its “terrorism” designation, in which profiles are accompanied by a logo of a red balaclava. Each terrorism profile includes a list of the sources of information used by World-Check when compiling the profile – some have been created solely from allegations written on conservative blogs, Islamophobic websites and political organizations.
So what does this mean to you?
Like the ever-growing number of lists compiled since 9/11, such as the No-Fly, you will never really know if you are included, or, if you are included, based on what information. You will never have a chance to examine and rebut the evidence. You will be subject to a 30-15 percent “false positives” rate. You will be targeted if you are immediate family member or associate of someone on the list.
You will be denied a bank account, turned down for a job or refused legal representation because your name is on this list. It is very possible complaining about the list will get you added to the list.
Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.