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Racial profiling to limit terriorism is fundamentally flawed: Expert

By Abdul Nisar
|

Washington, Nov 18 (ANI): Racial profiling does no better in helping law enforcement officials in their task of catching terrorists than standard uniform random sampling techniques, says Professor William Press from the University of Texas at Austin.

Racial profiling rests on the idea that people from particular racial or ethnic groups are more likely to be involved in acts of terror than people from other groups.

The theory then suggests that law enforcement officers should spend a greater proportion of their time scrutinising people from the 'high risk' group.

One problem with this approach is that innocent people who also belong to the targeted group rapidly become offended, and some may even become radicalized as a result.

"Racial profiling is as indiscriminate as deciding that people named Patrick are more likely to drink and drive, and so everyone who is named Patrick should be stopped and breathalysed more frequently than people with other names," said Press.

In a world threatened by terrorists from a small number of countries, it is tempting to think that racial profiling for security purposes, even if morally objectionable, might save lives.

"But uniform sampling, without the use of profiling, is surprisingly good. It is robust against false assumptions, it is deterrent, it is easy to implement, it is about as effective as any real-life system can be - and it is devoid of moral and political hazard," said Press.

The author published his paper today in Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association. (ANI)

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