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For other uses, see Blacklist (disambiguation).

A blacklist (or black list) is a list or register of entities or people who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize a person from a certain social circle.

Conversely, a whitelist is a list or compilation identifying entities that are accepted, recognized, or privileged. "Whitelist" and "blacklist" are widely considered controversial terms by some[who?] because of how they reinforce an implicit association in language between "black" and "bad" on the one hand, and "white" and "good" on the other. Many institutions including colleges and universities have abandoned the terms for less charged alternatives (like "safelist," or "watchlist").[citation needed]

The term blacklisting may be used in a pejorative sense, implying that a person has been prevented from having legitimate access to something due to inappropriate covert actions of those who control access. For example, a person being served with a restraining order for having threatened another person would not be considered a case of blacklisting. However, somebody who is fired for exposing poor working conditions in a particular company, and is subsequently systematically blocked from finding work in that industry, is described as having been inappropriately and often illegally blacklisted. Blacklisting can and has been accomplished informally by consensus of authority figures, and does not necessarily require a physical list or overt written record.

Blacklisting can be formal or informal. In the employment setting, applicants who apply to numerous positions regardless of being qualified or not can soon be ignored during some or all subsequent applicant processes, This can be an informal choice made by one person or a shared formal response taken up by one office, and not an issue that would be described as blacklisting. In the past, blacklists of union members have been shared or circulated between multiple organizations to prevent hiring of employees who, rather than being incompetent, have been critical of management actions. People have been prevented from working for decades due to being on a blacklist; in some cases the information on the blacklist was false. [1]


According to the Henry Holt Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins the word "blacklist" originated with a list England's King Charles II made of fifty-eight judges and court officers who sentenced his father, Charles I, to death in 1649. When Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, thirteen of these regicides were put to death and twenty-five sentenced to life imprisonment, while others escaped.

They also point out that "whitelist" is not the opposite of a blacklist, but rather a list, often kept by unions, of people suitable for employment.

Employment context[edit]

Fraud control[edit]


Main article: Returning

In the United States, a private agency known as The Retail Equation blacklists those who make excessive returns to participating retailers[citation needed].

Credit card merchant accounts[edit]

Companies which have a payment card merchant account terminated, and their directors, are often added to a list referred to when companies apply for an account; they are then unlikely to be granted a new account by any provider. In the US the list is called TMF/MATCH.

Medical context[edit]

See also: Patient abuse

Blacklisting by multiple providers is a systematic act by doctors to deny care to a certain patient or patients. It is done in various ways for various reasons; blacklisting is not new. In 1907 the Transvaal Medical Union in South Africa blacklisted patients if they could not pay cash in advance.[2] In this case, there was a physical list kept by the community of physicians. A physical list is not necessary to blacklist patients but the effect is the same. In the United States the web site[dead link] was set up to blacklist any patient who had filed a suit against a physician. That effort was extended offshore to a website that encourages doctors to consider avoiding patients who are listed in their blacklist database.[3] Both are physical lists that blacklist patients who either have complained or sued their healthcare providers.

In West London, Rafat Saeed had difficulty finding a GP and says, “… it is very easy for a doctor to blacklist a patient through the Family Health Services Authority”.[4]

Angelique Omega wrote in her blog, "I was once told in a phone call by a Renown E.R. nurse, after she very quickly looked up my name in their computer, that I'd better not ever show my face there ever again. This was after I had filed complaints …"[5]

One patient created a graph showing that every time his primary care physician knew about appointments he had with other physicians, those appointments did not result in diagnosis or treatment. All those physicians pretended to be helping, but eventually workers in one physician's office let him know that his primary care physician called them and told them not to diagnose or treat his injuries.[6] They were protecting the physician who caused the injuries.

Data sharing also can cause patients to become blacklisted. Data sharing makes it easy to get labeled as a "problem patient" without anyone adding a name to a list. Repeat patients who are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, or patients with chronic conditions or mental illness, can get labeled as "problem patients" in computer systems that hold the records of patients and can make it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to get appointments for care. Such systems have no borders, making this a global problem.[7]

Even without data sharing, collegial loyalty, watching each other's backs, can be enough to result in the denial of care to certain patients. Consider the patient who has been injured by a healthcare provider. Patients with iatrogenic illnesses often cannot get a record made of their injuries and often cannot get treatment. Trudy Newman in her article "Deadly Medical Practices"[8] described the cause as being physicians having a stronger allegiance to each other than to their patients. They are reluctant to acknowledge the existence of iatrogenic injuries by diagnosing or treating them. A patient with iatrogenic injuries can go from doctor to doctor to doctor without getting diagnosed or treated and never know why. Without a list or any communication between physicians, collegial loyalty by itself results in patients with certain kinds of problems being blacklisted.

However, the term blacklist does connote volition or willfulness. A new and unrecognized disease resulting in patients being unable to find treatment might not be considered blacklisting unless inclination or personal belief or the equivalent had to do with why treatment either was not found or was unreasonably difficult to find.

NHS prescriptions[edit]

In the UK the NHS maintains a list of blacklisted medicines that are not allowed to be prescribed on NHS prescriptions.


Blacklisting in online chat (IRC)
Main article: Blacklist (computing)

In computing, a blacklist is an access control system that denies entry to a specific list (or a defined range) of users, programs, or network addresses.

Nazi blacklist[edit]

Main article: The Black Book

The Nazi blacklist was the list in The Black Book that was drawn up of 2,820 prominent British citizens such as Winston Churchill and Bertrand Russell who would have been sent to concentration camps if the United Kingdom had not won the Battle of Britain and Nazi Germany's Operation Sea Lion had succeeded in conquering Great Britain.[9]

Hollywood anti-communist blacklist[edit]

An infamous systematic blacklist was the Hollywood blacklist, instituted by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 to block screenwriters and other Hollywood professionals who were purported to have Communist sympathies from obtaining employment. It started by listing 151 entertainment industry professionals and lasted until 1960 when it was effectively broken by the acknowledgement that blacklisted professionals had been working under assumed names for many years.[10][11]

California Proposition 8 supporter blacklist[edit]

Following the passage of California's Proposition 8, Proposition 8 opponents obtained donation lists of those who had supported the ballot measure by contributing to the "Yes on 8" campaign, published the list, organized an activism group, and began calling for boycotts of the places of work of the supporters[12] to force the firing or resignation of employees. Chad Griffin, a political adviser to Hollywood executives and same-sex marriage supporter explained the intent of the campaign by saying, "Any individual who has held homophobic views and who has gone public by writing a check, you can expect to be publicly judged. Many can expect to pay a price for a long time to come."[13] There has been controversy as to whether this is appropriate response to the passage of Proposition 8 on the part of those opposed to it.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Construction industry workers blacklisted for 20 years
  2. ^ Deacon, Harriet; Phillips, Howard; van Heyningen, Elizabeth, eds. (2004). The Cape Doctor in the Nineteenth Century: A Social History (Clio Medica, 74). Editions Rodipi B.V. 
  3. ^ "Web Site Encourages Blacklist of Med-Mal Plaintiffs". 
  4. ^ Saeed R (June 2003). "Patient's response to the research". BMJ 326 (7402): 1319. doi:10.1136/bmj.326.7402.1319. PMC 1126222. PMID 12805173. 
  5. ^ "Doctors in a Surveillance Society". The Progressive Blog Alliance HQ. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Graph: Patient safety requires scrutiny, but lawsuits brought against patients prohibit it". at 29 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Greedy Trial Lawyer (13 December 2006). "Blacklisted Patients Arise!". 
  8. ^ Newman, Trudy (21 September 2003), Deadly Medical Practices, Thunderbay IMC, archived from the original on 21 September 2003 
  9. ^ Clarke, Comer (1961). England Under Hitler: Revealed at Last—The Secret Nazi Plans for the Rape of England (paperback ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. 
  10. ^ Wilkerson, William (1946-07-29). "A Vote For Joe Stalin". The Hollywood Reporter. p. 1. 
  11. ^ Baum, Gary; Daniel Miller (Nov. 30, 2012 (Online Nov. 19, 2012)). "Blacklist: THR Addresses Role After 65 Years". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "Resist the Blacklist". The Ledger. 2008-11-22. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  13. ^ Rachel Abramowitz and Tina Daunt (November 23, 2008). Prop. 8 rifts put industry on edge. Hollywood is at odds over whether to shun supporters of the ban. LA Times. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  14. ^ Weinstein, Steve (2008-11-25). "Are We Being Bullies? Debate Rages Over Boycotts". Edge. Retrieved 2008-11-26. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]