"Shadowy" risk mitigation industry spreads use of secret databases
In 2016, VICE News discovered that the confidential and "shadowy" World-Check database, which has wrongly linked individuals to terrorist activity, was being widely used by British police and intelligence. Also a customer is the Charity Commission, which uses it to screen charities and aid beneficiaries. Owned by Thomson-Reuters, World-Check profiles individuals using "open-source" information to uncover their "hidden risk" for government agencies and banks and is part of a rapidly growing by unregulated risk mitigation industry worth $5 billion a year. VICE News found that World-Check included 2.7 million individuals and organisations in its classification system, 94,000 of them in the"terrorism" category. Other categories include "politically exposed person", in which MPs often appear, in some cases, leading banks to close their accounts. In response, then-chancellor George Osborne included a clause in the money-laundering provisions of the Bank of England Act 2016 intended to remove British parliamentarians from risk databases like World-Check, though it was not clear how compliance could be monitored. The Information Commissioner's Office had so far declined to investigate any of the several complaint it had received about World-Check.
Writer: Namir Shabibi and Ben Bryant