I was also really curious to see what risk they were reffering to?
Well, after a little reading, it turns out, the risk that World Check is reffering to, is the risk of terrorism and the product that claims to reduce this risk is called 'Passport-Check'.
What 'Passport-Check' does, "is verify the authenticity of machine-readable passports and identity documents."
What 'Passport-Check' also does, according to World-Check's own literature, is take the process of Identity Verification - one step further:
"...Would it not make sense to verify people's identities and at the same time cross-check them against the market-leading database of heightened risk individuals and entities? World-Check is the answer. Passport-Check is offered free of charge to all our Online subscribers - it has been embedded into World-Check's system so that when checking the authenticity of an ID-document, users are simultaneously running a search against World-Check's proprietary database. In a matter of seconds the results will show whether the ID-document is authentic and whether the passport holder is profiled in World-Check."
Honestly, when I read that, it literally sent a chill down my spine.
Has September 11 caused us to so completely overreact to the threat of terrorism that we've unknowingly created an environment that has spawned a new business industry sector for the categorizing of people?
And if this is indeed an unfortunate reality of our new global landscape, should privately-owned companies or corporations control the selling of that information?
Now I was really curious and honestly, kind of scared - Who the hell is "World Check" and more importantly who are their clients?
Wow! The Marketing of Intelligence!
Now, there's a tagline!
I had to find out more about World Check... and since there was no other pertinent company related information on the site, I had to look elsewhere.
According to Wikipedia, World Check is a "Privately-Owned UK organization that is recognized for their 'Open-Source Intelligence Database' which contains detailed profiles on terrorists and those who finance terrorism, money launderers, fraudsters, politically exposed persons and many others. This database is very widely used in the financial community including the financial intelligence units... In addition World Check is used by many government (immigration, security, intelligence, police) and international agencies including the United Nations"
Upon some further research, it turns out that World Check is owned by South African David Leppan and was founded in London in the wake of the City banking scandal over billions looted from Nigeria by then ruler Sani Abacha in 2000.
What World Check was basically set up to do was to provide to banks and other financial institutions a list of potential business risks or liabilities so they woudn't fall victims to such scams and pottentially tarnish their reputations and future earnings.
By using their 'Open-Source Intelligence Database', (which has nothing at all to do with the 'Open Source Community' or 'Open Source Software' that you might of heard of on the web) - in this case, Open Source just consists of information that is Openly or Overtly attained or collected, World Check managed to corner the financial industry sector.
After 9/11 however, World Check saw a golden opportunity to expand their domain into the political realm as well.