Wednesday, March 16, 2016

All Other Names Used

I'm filling out security clearance forms today. The blank "All other names used" always amuses yet scares me. I know that most people are comfortable mentally editing this to "all other names you've ever had on a credit card" or something of the sort, but it says ALL. The same need to be honest and correct that reduced me to a quivering wreck when airport security used to ask me "Has anyone placed anything in your baggage without your knowledge?" now compels me to frown intensely at that little blank and consider getting out a separate sheet of paper and listing every alias I've ever used since they called me "Spaghetti" at camp. Or maybe I should go back to when I couldn't pronounce my own name and called myself something my parents documented as gaah. The authorities know this is the age of the Internet, but they can't possibly want all my noms de blog and Twitter handles, can they? I use the tiny size of the blank as justification to winnow the list down to just the names that have ever appeared on my ID or in media stories about me.

Maybe security checks should look at people's social media accounts. "I'm sorry, you've been denied a security clearance because you shared a really stupid meme without fact checking it." Do we really want to give someone clearance to walk around an international airport with a screwdriver in her pocket if she retweets everything Justin Bieber says? Attitudes to security do change. Once upon a time it was considered a security risk to be homosexual. Why? Because someone could blackmail you into compromising security. When society reached the point where the worst consequence of being outed by a blackmailer would be losing your security clearance, there was no reason to have such a rule anymore. Your reputation as a Wikipedia editor or a redditor may be a better indicator of your reliability as an employee than what your grade twelve soccer coach has to say about you.

I am officially challenging you to include at least one social media handle amongst "All Other Names Used" on your next airside pass or other security application.


Unknown said...

"Has anyone placed anything in your baggage without your knowledge?" (WTH?) "Errr... Not that I know of."

This reminds me of the gate into the local airport with a big security sign on it telling us that "This Gate Must Remain Closed At All Times." Yeah, I think then it becomes a FENCE not a gate... D'Oh! Does anyone actually read the stuff they write in the world of aviation security?

Sarah said...

I have avoided security interviews as a matter of preference. These days, for a serious clearance level I would be surprised if they didn't ask for social media links routinely. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, whatever else the kids these days are using. Snapchat?

And as far as "all other names used" ... well, I'd prefer not to say, for good reasons of my own.