Thursday, January 21, 2010

No-fly madness comes to the UK

The UK government has responded to recent terrorism scares by announcing that they will introduce a US-style no-fly list, banning those suspected of being terrorists from boarding planes bound for or within the UK. It sounds good, but we've seen how this works in the US: thousands of innocent people banned from flying because they unfortunately share the same name as someone on the list, tens of thousands more (some children) harassed by "enhanced security checks" for the same reason every time they go into an airport (meanwhile, actual terrorists change their names, or don't appear on the government's radar in the first place). The enormous numbers of false positives alone is a reason to regard this scheme as moronic, without even getting into the way it can be (and has been) abused to deny freedom of movement to the political enemies of the government-of-the-day.

As with the crackdown on jokes about terrorism, hyper-vigilance and risk-aversion by official will lead to widespread human rights abuses. All in the name of "protecting" us, of course. But if the price of such protection is being forced to live in a tiny and ever-shrinking cage, I'd rather take my chances, thanks.