I read today about the police using handheld fingerprint scanners to identify motorists. Seems I have been a bit slow on the up take of this story. Paul Squires has already posted his thoughts here. My thoughts are very similar to his.
The story that I picked up from “The Register” indicates that your fingerprint will be checked against a database of 6.5m prints. My question is, where are all these prints coming from. As far as I know my fingerprints are not on record anywhere since I haven’t been arrested. All of my immediate friends and family are the same. I’m sure there are thousands of other people in a similar position. Therefore, since this handheld device doesn’t store any prints, then the police will be no better off trying to identify me by my print then they would be asking for my drivers license. Based on the information available, the police will scan both index fingers. That mean, assuming the database will only contain index fingerprint then it implies that it contains the prints of 3.25m people. There are approximately 60m people in the UK. So by my maths that means that the database only contain about 5% of the UK. How do we check the other 95%?
I also have to take issue with the statement that fingerprints won’t be recorded and stored. Maybe not as of today, but its only a small step from using these readers to check fingerprints to using the readers to record fingerprints and transmit them into the database. According to reports the trial is currently optional with the stopped individual being asked for their permission to check their prints. If the pilot is successful (hard to see how), then how long before it is mandatory.
I could go on, but I think i’ll leave it for now. I’m sure plenty more will be said by many more people over the coming days and months about this scheme.