Compiling watch lists sometimes leads to fairly ridiculous outcomes like this:
“Meet Mikey Hicks,” said Najlah Feanny Hicks, introducing her 8-year-old son, a New Jersey Cub Scout and frequent traveler who has seldom boarded a plane without a hassle because he shares the name of a suspicious person. “It’s not a myth.”
Lists can lead to a lot of false positives possibly undermining the goals of making the list in the first place. Lists can also be fairly easy to evade, if one is determined enough.
Mario Labbé, a frequent-flying Canadian record-company executive, started having problems at airports shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, with lengthy delays at checkpoints and mysterious questions about Japan. By 2005, he stopped flying to the United States from Canada, instead meeting American clients in France. Then a forced rerouting to Miami in 2008 led to six hours of questions.
“What’s the name of your mother? Your father? When were you last in Japan?” Mr. Labbé recalled being asked. “Always the same questions in different order. And sometimes, it’s quite aggressive, not funny at all.”
Fed up, in the summer of 2008, he changed his name to François Mario Labbé. The problem vanished.
What other sorts of effects might these lists have, intentional or not?