It's November 2016 and Jack has just arrived at Heathrow after a very long flight. He's been away on business and is looking forward to seeing his wife and two kids. He smiles as he recalls their last Skype conversation yesterday. Working as a human rights lawyer was interesting but exhausting.
His thoughts were rudely interrupted ...
Police: "Sir we need to ask you a few questions."
Jack: "Yes sure."
Police: "Just a few checks that's all. Follow me."
It wasn't the first time Jack had been stopped. It was almost an airport ritual now, alongside collecting his luggage off the carousel, he came to expect hours of questioning. Jack again, joined the 500,000 that have been stopped under the Schedule 7 Act (2000) and detained, humiliated and questioned since it was introduced yet 99.98% of those stopped are never charged with an offence.
Police: "We just need your passwords to your laptop and phone."
Jack: "Why would you want those? Can you explain what is going on and what I have done wrong? I'm very tired and just want to get home to my family."
Police: "I'm sorry but I will need those passwords."
Jack now angry and fed up: "You cannot do this. There is client confidential information on these devices, not to mention my own personal pictures and videos (as he recalls the video of his wife giving birth recently, something he clearly didn't want others to see ). I have done nothing wrong."
Police: "Sir it is compulsory for you to hand over the passwords and we don't need any cause for suspicion, but will arrest you if you don't hand over the passwords."
Jack: "So let me get this straight. I've done nothing wrong. You don't suspect me to have done so either, but you want my passwords to my devices, to essentially my entire life, and you will arrest me if I protect my clients and my own privacy?"
What would you do if you were Jack?
Would you hand over your passwords?
Would you allow your phone and laptop to become one of the 4,300 devices downloaded in Schedule 7 stops in one year alone (2015/2016).
Or would you fight for your civil liberties?
Jack: "Arrest me then...."
He is arrested and then later charged and released on bail on 17th May 2017 for wilfully obstructing or seeking to frustrate a search examination under Schedule 7 when he was detained at Heathrow in November.
Whilst we are sticking to hard facts and figures we should probably change Jack's name as 88.4% of detentions under schedule 7 are 'non-white'.
So whilst you were appalled at Jack's treatment are you equally appalled and outraged if we change Jack's name to Mohammed Rabbani and make him a director of CAGE?
You should be. The right to privacy still applies.
This isn't just a Muslim issue, or a non-white issue (though it clearly targets Muslims/non-whites more). It's an issue about civil liberties and standing firm for what is right and wrong. Law-abiding individuals have a right to insist on privacy when it comes to their passcodes. Yet without needing to be suspected of anything, anyone could be stopped under Schedule 7 and have all their information confiscated, both work and personal information. Stop and think for a minute what you have on your devices, are you willing to share your personal information just because you are told to for no reason or suspicion at all?
Many may try and brush this off and say 'It'll never happen to me. I've never done anything wrong," but that's the thing, neither have Jack or Rabbani. Don't get me wrong, if you are suspected of a crime or have done something wrong then you should be detained, questioned and hand over your devices. But why does the law unfairly treat those who haven't?
This is why I stand with Mohammed Rabbani because we all have a #RightToPrivacy and individuals like this who stand firm and fight for all our rights whilst risking their own civil liberties so we don't lose ours should be supported.
I know many who will be hesitant or afraid to do the same, I used to be, but I've learnt not to be afraid to think and question, it's OK to do so and it doesn't make me an extremist or radical . It just makes me fair and want to play my part to ensure a fair and equal society for generations to come.