No, I’m not talking about the TV show “Heroes”, I’m talking about the Specially Designated Nationals List (link opens in a new window). As posted on Bruce’s blog, companies are denying services to people whose names *resemble* people who are on the list. It’s like the No-Fly List, but much more crippling. Want a loan? Sorry, you’re on the list. Want to buy a new car, rent a car, book a hotel, order cell phone service? Sorry, you’re on the list. Never mind that you’re NOT on the list, you resemble someone who is on the list. From the Washington Post article:
“The way in which the list is being used goes far beyond contexts in which it has a link to national security,” said Shirin Sinnar, the report’s author. “The government is effectively conscripting private businesses into the war on terrorism but doing so without making sure that businesses don’t trample on individual rights.”
The lawyers’ committee has documented at least a dozen cases in which U.S. customers have had transactions denied or delayed because their names were a partial match with a name on the list, which runs more than 250 pages and includes 3,300 groups and individuals. No more than a handful of people on the list, available online, are U.S. citizens.
It’s “only” a dozen or so cases, so far, but can you imagine the effect on your life if you were one of the dozen? The red tape would make Identity Theft look like a picnic.