Social Engineering in Fiction: Sherlock Holmes

A particular instance in The Hound Of The Baskervilles

"Have you any objection to my looking at your register?" said

"Not in the least."

The book showed that two names had been added after that of
Baskerville. One was Theophilus Johnson and family, of Newcastle;
the other Mrs. Oldmore and maid, of High Lodge, Alton.

"Surely that must be the same Johnson whom I used to know," said
Holmes to the porter. "A lawyer, is he not, gray-headed, and
walks with a limp?"

"No, sir; this is Mr. Johnson, the coal-owner, a very active
gentleman, not older than yourself."

"Surely you are mistaken about his trade?"

"No, sir! he has used this hotel for many years, and he is very
well known to us."

"Ah, that settles it. Mrs. Oldmore, too; I seem to remember the
name. Excuse my curiosity, but often in calling upon one friend
one finds another."

"She is an invalid lady, sir. Her husband was once mayor of
Gloucester. She always comes to us when she is in town."

Social Engineering from the greatest of consulting detectives. As we'd expect from one of the good guys, he doesn't use the information for nefarious purposes, just to eliminate suspicion. Nice huh?

ID Schemes and National ID by default

I picked up my new NSW driving licence this morning (having been on a UK driving licence up until now), and this got me to thinking about a subject I've had some previous thoughts on.

A lot of countries are currently looking at introducing National ID Schemes. Such schemes have been around before, notably in times of war when (possibly justifiable) paranoia brings forth a need to identify citizens and by extension, identify potential enemies. In times of peace (notwithstanding the putative 'War On Terror®'), the need seems less justifiable.

Personally, I'm very much against the carrying of any kind of photo-ID day-to-day. This has brought me into conflict at various times, not the least of which is at pubs, bars and events such as festivals or concerts.

When I was 17, I was quite willing to carry ID, given that the ID in question was a laminated Student Union card from a Union office with questionable verification processes, allowing me to get myself maximum beer with minimum hassle. After I turned 18 officially I began to develop a dislike for photo ID. In the UK at the time, it was quite possible to get away with this. Driving licences were paper dockets with no photo, and there was no official requirement to carry them at all times. If pulled over, you could be given a 'producer', which meant you'd need to turn up at a police station within a given period (I think two weeks) with your documentation.

From the point where I began to look clearly over 18, my willingness to carry ID diminished. I don't wish to carry such a document, with all the potential abuses it comes with.

Now, of course, I've moved to Australia. Here, you need to carry your driving licence at all times when driving, which I've found out in practice to much consternation. Worse, there's a back-door ID requirement. Many bars, pubs, concerts and festivals demand ID on entry, whether or not you want to buy alcohol, in addition to most financial institutions needing phot ID, and numerous other organisations with no conceivable need, thus bringing in a default national ID.

Now, the hoo-hah about national ID schemes seems a little pointless, given that backdoor national ID already exists. Let's go hypothetical. Let's say I have no desire to drive a car. No desire to travel overseas. I want a beer though. Sadly, my local pub wants photo ID. So I have to apply for a special ID card.

Now, of course, more and more organisations are asking for your driving licence or passport number, or some other personally identifiable info when applying for all manner of services. These people are now keeping databases, which could potentially be collated and mined. Let's go hypothetical once more.

I get a credit card from the bank, which has my passport number on file as ID. They then share their database with large corporate A. large corporate A owns a ticketing company. I buy a ticket for, say, a swinger's ball at a fetish club on said credit card. When there I'm ID'd, and someone from the ticketing company takes a note of my licence number, which ties back to my CC number. Next week I go for a job interview at large conglomerate A, and they happen to ask for my driving licence number on the application form, because I might be driving for the job.

All of a sudden, they've got far more info on me than I'd like them to have, and enough to allow an unscrupulous employee to fuck me right over in terms of identity theft.

Far fetched? Potentially, but I'm pretty sure a thinking person will be able to come up with other scenarios which are just as dodgy if not more so.

Which is why, despite having an NSW driving licence, I will continue to refuse to hand it over to anyone short of a government agency, and then only grudgingly.

Especially bouncers. Bouncers can go get fucked. Which I guess was my point all along.

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