But I’m not a terrorist!

Re-posted from archive of infinite ideas machine 2004:

“If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear” is still bugging me (I’ve been wearing that T-shirt again…) and this SecurityFocus article, Firm names ‘statistically likely’ terrorists, begins to articulate why. [The firm is called Seisint, and even a quick look at the services they offer – and how they achieve them – begins to make my blood run cold. Go ACLU!]

Given that ID cards / NIR are being proposed as a means to combat terrorism and serious crime – something Blunkett and others initially headlined, but have since been forced to downplay – and that so much (public) money is going to be spent on the project, it is inconceivable that UK Police and Intelligence services will not be allowed to use software such as that described in the article, i.e. profiling individuals based on their NIR records.

Which is where the whole “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear” thing begins to break down:

  • You may have done nothing wrong… but you may well fit the profile of people who have – or who the authorities think might.
  • You may not knowingly mix with terrorists or criminals… but who has lived in your house before you? Or who are those mates your kid met at college? What does a terrorist look like, anyway – and do you really think they’ll be carrying an ID card stamped ‘Suicide Bomber’?
  • And if something goes wrong with the technology or database records – which, of course, it never does! – how are you going to prove that you aren’t that conman / extremist / murderer?

Of course, if ID cards do come in and you’re white and middle class – like me – then you probably won’t ever be stopped on the street and asked for your ID. That will (has, and continues to) happen to those of us that have darker skin, or look Asian or who dress according to their faith. Just because the risk to you personally is low, do not assume that holds for everyone – just start by examining your own prejudices!

No, I’m afraid “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear” sounds to me, at best, like the sound of people collectively burying their heads in the sand and, at worst, it’s nothing more than saying “I’m all right, Jack…”


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