UK Car Rentals to Require Fingerprints

Welcome to a surveillance society:

If you want to hire a car at Stansted Airport, you now need to give a fingerprint.

The scheme being tested by Essex police and car hire firms, is not voluntary. Every car rental customer must take part.

No fingerprint, no car hire at Stansted airport.

These are stored by the hire firms -- and will be handed over to the police if the car is stolen or used for another crime.

This is the most amusing bit:

"It's not intrusive really. It's different -- and people need to adjust to it. It's not Big Brother, it's about protecting people's identities. The police will never see these thumbprints unless a crime is committed."

What are the odds that no crime will ever be committed?

Fingerprints are becoming more common in the UK:

But regardless of any ideological arguments, the use of biometric technology -- where someone is identified by a physical characteristic -- is already entering the mainstream.

Biometric UK passports were introduced this year, using facial mapping information stored on a microchip, and more than a million have already been issued.

A shop in the Bluewater centre in Kent has used a fingerprint checking scheme to tackle credit card fraud. And in Yeovil, Somerset, fingerprinting has been used to cut town-centre violence, with scanners helping pick out troublemakers.

It's not just about crime. Biometric recognition is also being pitched as more convenient for shoppers.

Pay By Touch allows customers to settle their supermarket bill with a fingerprint rather than a credit card. With three million customers in the United States, this payment system is now being tested in the UK, in three Co-op supermarkets in Oxfordshire.

Posted on November 14, 2006 at 7:37 AM • 59 Comments

Comments

KieranNovember 14, 2006 8:08 AM

Stansted Airport is a sh*thole anyway. They've even banned normal taxis and replaced them with a picked firm who charge three times as much.

ParanoidNovember 14, 2006 8:29 AM

I don't see any mention of a data policy. What happens when the car hire has finished? Do they keep the data or delete it?

If this idea takes off, then it won't be long before companies start connecting the different systems to a centralised database to get more detailed information about customer purchasing habits. That is the beginning of a surveillance society.

This is so typical of the UK. When I tell my colleagues at work that I don't want biometric ID checks, DNA recording, ID cards ... they think I'm paranoid.

PBNovember 14, 2006 9:06 AM

If your colleagues say they have nothing to hide, ask them what their household income is :-)

Prisoner #2347November 14, 2006 9:27 AM

Not to worry. The best thing about fingerprints is they they do not accurately describe an individual and they cannot be changed.

The use of fingerprints will all but disappear (except by the more moronic companies) when enough techno-savvy crooks start using pilfered prints to commit crimes.

The best place to steal prints:
-Lift (elevator) buttons
-Petrol (Gas) Station pumps
-Keyboards
-Doors (the push kind; doorknobs are not so good)

Once your prints are stolen, you can never get a replacement set, can you?

Gopi FlahertyNovember 14, 2006 10:02 AM

How easy is it to make a proesthetic latex fingerprint? Just put a thin piece of material on top of your finger, flesh-colored, and nobody will notice.

Bonus points for writing "big brother sux!" in the swirl pattern.

On a more serious note, have there been any documented cases of people trying to fake fingerprints for an actual nefarious purpose?

I do wonder if somebody who has a grudge could manage to acquire one or more fingerprints of the prospective grudgee, and commit some sort of crime with a proesthetic fingerprint. Perhaps it's a movie plot threat, but some people do seem to hold grudges long enough to pull it off...

Adrian RamseyNovember 14, 2006 10:12 AM

I was discussing this last night with someone who trotted out the old line, "The innocent have nothing to fear".

The problem is that with the UK Government introducing so many new criminal offences, it will soon be: "Nobody's innocent, citizen: we're determining the level of your guilt."

steveNovember 14, 2006 10:30 AM

/\adrian R.
That would be a nice web 'sig:

"Nobody's innocent, citizen: we're determining the level of your guilt."

Scary how most people still say the same " they have nothing to hide"

Timmy303November 14, 2006 11:19 AM

Fingerprints are becoming more common in the UK

It's worse even than you think: I hear virtually everyone there now has one

:-)

CJNovember 14, 2006 11:25 AM

@Prisoner:

I don't know if I agree that that will stop the use of fingerprints, though - it should, but look at how easy it is to clone car licence plates. In South Africa, at least, there's always someone complaining that they were ticketed because their licence plate was cloned - sometimes it's true, sometimes not :-) Regardless, it doesn't make the authorities try to come up with a new way of identifying vehicles.

JoeNovember 14, 2006 11:26 AM

@Gopi

Easy! The Myth Busters were given the task to break into a room that is protected by a fingerprint scanner. Supposedly this scanner needed a pulse, warmth, and blood circulation to work. All they did was lift a print, scan it, fill in the lines with a marker, and they were in. They only had to use paper, nothing else. They also made a thin layer of fake skin that worked wonderfully.

Fingerprints are just not worth much anymore. They can be faked and/or altered. There are many many other ways to get a rental car.

Puncture the tire of the car, follow it until it goes flat, offer to help fix it and take the car.

You can wait by the curb and when the sales rep is done showing the car, jump in and take it while the renters are putting thier luggage in the trunk.

Break in the shop and make copies of all the keys with clay (take nothing). Go back later with the newly made keys and you can have any car you want. If you are smart, you can use the car, then return it without anyone knowing.

Fingerprinting only stops the casual thief or criminal and just creates hassles for the innocent. What happens if the database is comprimised and fingerprints along with credit card info, license info, and personal data are stolen. Thats some sexy data right there! The possible problems far outweigh the benefits.

Andy FletcherNovember 14, 2006 11:32 AM

The problem with fingerprinting is that it effectively logs you for life and that corrupt or careless individuals can use that information to impersonate you (maybe not now - but in 10 years time who knows what can be done?). A fingerprint does not have an expiry date like a passport or credit card.

One question which is not often raised during discussions on fingerprinting is liability for loss or breach of confidentiality. In other words if someone steals your fingerprint data and uses it to commit fraud/crime or whatever - what is the maximum they can be liable for and over what period? If a crime is committed in 20 years using the data will the insurance companies continue to pay out even if the original organisation has ceased trading? The long lived nature of fingerprint data makes this more than just an academic consideration.

I predict that in the future these issues will make asbestos claims look insignificant in comparison.

KentonNovember 14, 2006 12:12 PM

I tend to be a "I have nothing to hide" kind of person and I wouldn't have a problem using fingerprint authentication if companies could prove that they actually a) care about my personal information and b) know how to secure it so that no one else can get their hands on it (I've seen very little of either in the last couple of years). It's one thing to give the car rental company my credit card info and have them "lose" it when a laptop gets misplaced. It's a completely different thing when that data they lost contains my finger print.

Unfortunately for innocent people, I think criminals are going to get away with stealing finger prints for a lot longer than they got away with stealing credit cards. Everyone know that finger prints are irrefutable evidence (I learned that on CSI).

Gopi FlahertyNovember 14, 2006 12:42 PM

@Andy Fletcher:
"In other words if someone steals your fingerprint data and uses it to commit fraud/crime or whatever - what is the maximum they can be liable for and over what period?
...
I predict that in the future these issues will make asbestos claims look insignificant in comparison."

If your scenario starts to happen, I can see the big insurance companies pushing to reduce their risks - which, given that the data has already been stolen, can only happen by reducing the value of the data. Perhaps they'll lobby for reduced reliance on fingerprints.

One thing I've heard said about many fingerprint scanners is that they work on some sort of hash, such that you can't really go from their stored data back to your fingerprint. This is presented as a potential security benefit.

I wonder, are these hashes reversible? If, rather than formal CS-like hashes, they're just measures of certain parts of the geometry, it seems like you could easily build a pattern which gave the same result as my fingerprint, at least with that particular algorithm.

In fact, I think you may _have_ to do that, because with a traditional hashing algorithm, differences in the input data produce totally different output. Thus, a fingerprint scanner working on traditional hashing wouldn't produce any kind of confidence score- it would merely be pass/fail.

I believe that any sort of hashing technique which produced a confidence measure - that is, similar inputs produced close outputs - would be extremely reversible.

I suppose the other technique they could use would be to use strong hashing, but to calculate a range of hashes for similar values - if it found your finger had 10 ridges, they'd calculate the hashes for between 8 and 12 ridges. However, this would blow up exponentially if they used any reasonably large number of values, so it seems impractical.

mdfNovember 14, 2006 12:44 PM

Stealing data with fingerprints affixed is not all that useful ... unless you have the corresponding fingers. Or is it possible to take the data these sensors record and reconstruct a print? (I can't believe anyone would be that stupid, but then again ...)

Another prisonerNovember 14, 2006 1:28 PM

I have trained myself years ago to never touch surfaces in public areas with my fingertips.

Back then, I believed criminals would sooner or later (probably sooner) collect and abuse random fingerprints. Either to pay with them, or to leave them at crime scenes to distract the police from themselves.

Another reason is that I don't want data miners to connect my name with human properties that people with similar fingerprints might have unusually often.

Say I have fingerprint metapattern FMP446, which happens to be found on only 2% of the general public, but 6% of convicted rapists. Having my fingerprints in their database, the police might want to arrest me as a precaution each time a rape happens in town.

Readers of this blog will be clever enough to make up more examples.

hwNovember 14, 2006 1:39 PM

Can we work-out from first principles whether these thumbprints are going to be stored as 'hashes' (recordings of certain points on the thumbprint but not the original thumbprint) or a hi-res image of the print itself?

If the point of these fingerprints is to enable them to be handed to the police if there is a problem then what would be the use of it being a 'hash' if they can't be reversed to give a true thumbprint?

When a crime has been committed, what will the police do with a single thumbprint 'hash'? Unless the system is specifically designed to allow checks to be run against police fingerprint databases (eg the 'hashing' was exactly the same one used by all current police fingerprint sources) then I believe it would probably not be feasible to check a 'hash' against all currently held prints to try to discover a real name for the person who gave the print (having to generate a hash for each print held on police files in order to compare it to the print given over would a while).

I presume that the police have a way of checking through their fingerprint records for a given print (although I may have been watching too much CSI) so this could be useful to identify a repeat criminal.

If we only have a hash of a thumbprint then it can only be useful if you find a person and wish to find out if it is likely that this person is the same person who hired the car.

However, I believe, without a reasonable resolution original image that could be confirmed by an expert to be a match, a 'There is a 99% probability that this software thinks that this thumbprint belongs to the same person' doesn't sound likely to hold up in court.

So unless this system stores a hi-res original of the print then this appears, to me, to be absolutely nothing but security theatre, I cannot see how it makes anything safer or more secure.

If it holds a hi-res image then it *might* help in the case that a known criminal gives a false name to hire a car. However it requires that a hi-res image of a digit, that could be used in future for other authentication purposes, must be held on a computer system of unknown security (now and unless deleted once the vehicle is returned in the future as well).

Personally I don't think I'll be hiring a car from anywhere at Stansted.

RicKNovember 14, 2006 1:46 PM

RE Ilya who says Singapore is way ahead as they use fingerprints to pay for junk food - please explain this statement in the story you linked to:

"Patrons concerned about privacy and security issues related to the scanning of their thumbprint can use any of their fingers instead"

??

AnonymousNovember 14, 2006 1:47 PM

"I do wonder if somebody who has a grudge could manage to acquire one or more fingerprints of the prospective grudgee, and commit some sort of crime with a proesthetic fingerprint."

You don't need proesthetics.
Just take some fingerprints from door handles using adhesive film, rob a jeweler, and apply each film strip at glass surfaces before you leave.

For an even higher level of confidence, leave some hair of the fingerprint owner as well. Or wear the same clothes, just in case there is cctv.

Heck, you might get complete impersonation sets from burglars for cheap. Burglars must make the most of what they have, like everyone else.

AnonymousNovember 14, 2006 1:58 PM

"Nobody's innocent, citizen: we're determining the level of your guilt"

..."by OUR standards".

If the Nazis would have had a database with DNA samples or biometrics, people with un-"aryan" genes or fingerprints would have ended in the gas chambers.

ProbitasNovember 14, 2006 2:08 PM

"I can't believe anyone would be that stupid, but then again ..."

One of my favorite tee shirts says "Never Underestimate The Power Of Stupid People In Large Groups". Even the small groups seem capable of incredible acts.

HarrkevNovember 14, 2006 3:54 PM

I just moved to Colorado and got my new driver's license today. Guess what I had to do? You got it -- put my right index finger on a fingerprint reader. I actually asked the employee what this was for, and I got the classic response of "I dunno." Great. The government is collecting fingerprints for some unknown purpose -- all to just drive a car. The funny thing is that the average sheep sees nothing wrong with this. I guess it is kind of "slowly boil the frog" type of thing.

RoyNovember 14, 2006 4:06 PM

@Gopi Flaherty

The faked fingerprint trick was used in a movie -- The Bourne Supremacy -- and I cannot fault the technique. A good quality fake does look like a poor quality real print. I don't believe a mechanism can spot a ringer.

Imagine the havoc -- and hilarity -- that would ensue when the fingerprints of the entire US Congress started turning up in crimes all across the country and the rest of the planet.

I hope nobody actually collects such prints, copies them with high-resolution digital processing, and then distributes them over the Internet through a myriad of mirror sites.

RossNovember 14, 2006 5:23 PM

It's just that Stansted is a crap airport. It started off as an airport for low-cost charter flights, which gave its management the idea that their customers are from social class 17. It's grown as the Cambridge area has, and as low-cost flights have. Management attitudes haven't kept up.

For example, we often used to leave our car with friends who live in a nearby village, rather than pay their huge car parking charges. But recently they granted a taxi monopoly to a company that charges about $20 for a two-mile run to our friends' house.

The real problam was that when the London airports were privatised last century, they were all sold to the same company. Now that the company's been sold off to a foreign company, there isn't any regulatory pressure for things to get better

KarunNovember 14, 2006 6:40 PM

I had to do the fingerprint "thing" at Stanstead. They said this was required only for those holding foriegn credit cards/passports and the fingerprint slip would be kept only for the duration of the rental- then destroyed when the car was returned. Looks like the scheme is being expanded?

Ilya LevinNovember 14, 2006 7:15 PM

@RicK:
Thumbprints are used in IC here, thus many people are sensitive about it. The quote simply says that any other finger may be used instead of the card’s one.

Seven_Null7November 14, 2006 8:07 PM

@ Harrkev

Maybe because "the average sheep" is neither paranoid nor narcissistic?

One of the HUGE security problems with replacement of what is, for many people, their ONLY form of official picture ID, is that if it's lost, you'll need to identify yourself - without a picture ID. I had a wallet stolen several years ago, and while a bunch of us were standing around at the licencing office, we compared notes on the documents that they accepted, and quickly realized that you could easily get what you needed to get a state-issued ID saying that you were someone else by rifling their mailbox, or breaking into their home.

A fingerprint would make it MUCH easier for the licence holder to prove their identity, while at the same time, making it much harder for someone else to impersonate them. You're right, it's unlikely to be hard enough to foil the professionals. But it does keep the random opportunitistic chaff at bay, and for most of us, that's all we really need.

EuripidesNovember 14, 2006 9:53 PM

Apart from other risks: some people have no biomatrically useable fingerprints. What shall they do? Can't they rent a car at the airport?

And I see another problem: if you pay with a stolen credit card, you clearly commit a crime and it's easy to prove that. If you use this "Pay By Touch" and use a fake fingerprint, how can anyone prove this later? Was it a crime, or was it a bug in the system? I think, shoplifters will like it.

Alton NaurNovember 14, 2006 10:53 PM

To my knowledge, I have been fingerprinted exactly twice: once by the state of Texas to get my driver's license, the second, to get a card to rent videos at Blockbuster. Blockbuster was actually asking for this years before the state did. Why is anyone surprised at this kind of thing anymore?

Arturo QuirantesNovember 15, 2006 2:25 AM

Does anybody know when, or where, was it proven that fingerprints are unique? I mean experimentally-determined from comparison of many fingerprints, not the classical "the chances are 1 in 12 zillion" hype coming from theory. Once I heard the largest comparison involved about 50.000 photographs of different fingerprints. I'd like to know how that can be extrapolated to a population of, say, 100 million+ people, many of which have 10 fingers.

TarkeelNovember 15, 2006 2:34 AM

Regarding this whole "nothing to hide" farce:

I can't remember exactly what country this was, but I think it was Belgium or the Netherlands. The story goes that when the Germans invaded in WW2, they got some real help from the official census archives in identifying jews for "processin", since religion was a part of the information stored in the census.

It's not what those that currently have your information can do with it you have to consider, but as has been said before, those that can potentially get hold of it in the future.

Clive RobinsonNovember 15, 2006 3:50 AM

@Prisoner #2347

It is better to use a glass object like a beer bottle or glass from a resteraunt as it is easier to lift the print (you can do it with certain types of sticky tape).

Also you get to get a free sample of the persons DNA as well, so you can fake that to...

I still have to work out how to get retina and other Bio's down reliably (I guess bone structure and gait are going to be the hardest ;)

Oh for those that say "it's not possible to fake somebodies DNA" you don't need to. All you need to do is perform the same DNA replication technique the Police do, and then use the resulting strands.

The DNA strands you plant go through the Police DNA test without significant change, and populate the test results, therefore the test result looks like that of your selected victim....

supersnailNovember 15, 2006 3:52 AM

Been there,
Gave the fingerprint.
Got the car.

They actualy take a real fingerprint on paper with some easy to rub of ink.

How the essex police imagine this could prvent or help detect any crime is beyond me.

On the brighter side while its easy to fool a fingerprint scanner with a fake fingerprint it is much harder to make a convinving fake using a latex copy, they will just look "wrong" to the fingerprint techie.

And on a more worrying note when merecedes stqrted fitting fingerprint scanners on there top end models Russian gangsters found an easy way to circumvent the security. They took you finger as well as the car!

Hagbard_CNovember 15, 2006 5:27 AM

@Tarkeel,
The census information in WW2 was taken in my home country (the Netherlands), the resistance spend quite a lot of time trying to burn down administrative buildings to stop this abuse. These days asking for religion and nationality on any form is considered a 'no, no' (although talk is starting to scrap this tabboo).

Clive RobinsonNovember 15, 2006 7:28 AM

In the UK when PArliment goes back there is a tradition called the "Queens Speach" where the current political incumbrents outline what they intend to do for the next year.

Well the Queen's speach was today it was over about an hour ago and by the looks of it, it is going to be an awfal lot more of "servalence is good" and "finger your neighbour" all being lumped into a bill about terorrism....

RachelNovember 15, 2006 7:49 AM

> I hope nobody actually collects such prints, copies them with high-resolution digital processing, and then distributes them over the Internet through a myriad of mirror sites.

Oh, I _do_ hope that will happen, because it might be one of the few things that could make the public more aware of the risks of biometry.

peakcrewNovember 15, 2006 11:18 AM

@ Arturo Quirantes - fingerprints have never been proven to be unique. It is impossible to give that proof (so many humans, so much history). It is merely a statistical likelihood that no two people have the same fingerprint. Therefore, fingerprints cannot be assumed to unique!

@ Harrkev - "But it does keep the random opportunitistic chaff at bay, and for most of us, that's all we really need." This only works for today - as soon as the word gets around that there are ways around it, the opportunistic chaff will be right back in play, but this time they'll opportunistically be able to use your biometrics!

Mr PondNovember 15, 2006 11:40 AM

While I agree that I would certainly not want a random car rental company to have copies of my prints...

Bruce, I must comment on the "... becoming ever more common..." part of your post.

Regarding the use of prints to combat credit card fraud and town-centre violence - in what way exactly are these uses bad? To bes ure there may be other and arguably better methods of combating C/C fraud, but if this helps then why not use it.

AnonymousNovember 15, 2006 1:14 PM

@Mr Pond: "if this helps then why not use it." Because giving away your fingerprints is an uncalculable risk for your privacy and freedom.

First imagine how criminals steal your money (at an ATM) or car using copies of your prints. Then imagine how your prints are left at crime scenes, either to distract from the real criminals, or specifically to harm you or get rid of you. Then think about discrimination by employers, ensurance companies etc. because your prints tell statistical probabilities about your iq, laziness, honesty, probability to get cancer or become pregnant...

Then imagine what will happen if some fanatic future government decides that people with prints like yours don't match their idea of an acceptable citizen. First they use your prints to choose you, then they use them again to find you.

Even if you manage to keep yours out of the public data pool for now, as soon as the bureaucrats find that the majority of people is happy to give theirs away and won't , they will make a law that forces you to get in line for the slaughter, like all other cattle does.

Hence, by giving away biometric data of yours, you harm my privacy and freedom as well. And that of your wife, your children, their children... and my children...

If all that is not enough to answer "why not", then ask yourself if you want to pay all that biometry stuff with your tax or taxi money.

Please be smart and keep your biometric data private.

jackNovember 15, 2006 1:31 PM

If things continue to go in this direction, fingerprint data will be readily available for resale in the near future.

The other day I had to install some software in a plant (nothing special, this particular plant happens to make plastic parts for the automotive industry). To get access to any part of the building we had to have fingerprints taken, names and ID numbers got captured, and an RFID card was issued. Doors will only open for the proper fingerprint-RFID combination, apparently to prevent 'card-borrowing'.

The machine running the access control software is of course readily available on the network, and running windows. Watch out for contractors just happening to be on-site shortly after another 0-day exploit for XP appears.

Seven_Null7November 15, 2006 3:09 PM

@ Anonymous

I refuse to spend my time living in fear of what some hypothetical future fascisti might do with enough information about people. That makes for a poor risk analysis.

It also assumes a certain helplessness to do anything to remedy the situation, which is almost always untrue. The remedies available are only rarely desirable, but life's unfair that way...

ParanoidNovember 15, 2006 6:22 PM

@Mr Pond

The advertised purpose of using an ID system is almost never a problem e.g. Fingerprints to deter car thieves, DNA to catch rapists, smart cameras to highlight abnormal behaviour.
The problem is that due to the nature of modern networked systems, the total cumulative effect of these systems may be somewhat different in the future.
If you can track and correlate all fingerprinted transactions (and lots of other stuff I won't go into) then you start to build a behavioural tracking system. This is already the case with CCTV and number plate tracking by smart cameras in certain situations. Fingerprints, RFID tagging, facial recognition cameras, GPS vehicle tracking (primarily for tax but excellent for Big Brother) are possible future developments.
I am worried that our privacy is being chipped away piece by piece without us really noticing.

Roman PearceNovember 16, 2006 2:41 AM

Companies and governments love biometric identification because it makes the costs of misidentification an externality. Fingerprints hold up in court. If they have your print, you will probably have to prove your innocence.

That fingerprints can be easily forged but not secured or replaced is a disaster for the public. I can be cautious about who I give my credit card number to, and if it is stolen or forged I can cancel it and get a new one. To secure fingerprints what would we have to do what - wear gloves all the time ? And if an individual's prints are forged, they are screwed. The only way to disassociate oneself is to burn off your fingerprints, but then you won't be trusted.

Fingerprints won't work for commerce, because individuals can't prevent or recover from fraud. They barely work for identification because they are so easy to forge. You must authenticate the print by physically checking that a person's finger and not a thin film or cover produced the print. Of course nobody is going to do this, just like nobody checks signatures on credit cards. The difference is that fraudulent credit cards are cancelled and replaced. Fingerprints can be cancelled but not replaced, so I will conjecture, somewhat counter-intuitively, that the total amount of fraud would be higher with a semi-unique biometric identifier than with a piece of plastic issued on demand by a bank. People will tolerate more fraud because it is harder to do something about it.

It should be obvious to anyone that fingerprints are a wholly inadequate means of securing identity. They meet the needs of companies and governments, which is to rid of anonymity (they have someone to charge or hold responsible), but they don't meet the needs of the individual at all which is preventing impersonation. They secure only one side of the transaction. Unfortunately the costs of fraud are born entirely on the other side (individuals), so we are all likely to suffer while companies and goverments figure this out.

AnonymousNovember 16, 2006 6:17 AM

@Seven_Null7:
"I refuse to spend my time living in fear of what some hypothetical future fascisti might do..."

I don't want to live in fear, too. That is why am so concerned to protect my privacy, especially that of my biometrics.

Pure ignorance may keep you happy for a while, but that will certainly stop when the effects reach your own life. In that respect, ignorance and stupidity lead to the same results.

"That makes for a poor risk analysis."

Please explain why uncertainty in the estimation of risk makes the risk irrelevant.

Also, please explain why the uncertainty in the estimation of positive effects of wholesale surveillance and data collection is smaller. The only answer I can come up with is that positive effects are short-term, but the risk is long-term. But would that make it a good deal?

"It also assumes a certain helplessness to do anything to remedy the situation, which is almost always untrue."

Right, the police have _not_ been helpless before wholesale dna and fingerprint databases existed.

"The remedies available are only rarely desirable, but life's unfair that way..."

Life being unfair in general is no reason to accept the ongoing destruction of privacy, dignity and freedom of the individual. Please remember that the system is there to serve the people, not the other way around.

AnonymousNovember 16, 2006 7:12 AM

@jack:
"To get access to any part of the building we had to have fingerprints taken, names and ID numbers got captured..."

This is a good example why organisations (which are not human, hence cannot suffer) can stomp on the rights of people (which are human, and will suffer).

Every single individual, in this case you, only has the choice to comply or to be excluded. Of course you have bills to pay, hence you did comply.

They don't pay for your loss of privacy, liberty, and political safety. They get it for free. Hence it's an externality to them.

If enough people would refuse to compromise their biometric data, the management of that plant would need to change their system to the better. But that will not happen because most people are aboulic string puppets, or must accept every policy because they have no savings.

The few exceptions are seen as wacks, grumblers, even subversives, though they don't harm anyone. Quite the contrary - they take personal financial and social losses to defend the freedom that our ancestors paid for with their blood and lifes. Theirs and yours too!

Personally, I would have said "no, thanks" and gone. But I am a doomed exception, and already have few room to breathe.

I wish there were more choice among political and economic systems, so everyone could find one that is personally acceptable.

I would choose the surveillance- and biometry-free liberty zone where the government is transparent, spends tax money sparsely and wisely (mostly for infrastructure and police) and never goes in debt, and leaves me alone otherwise.

Unfortinately, there is only one globe, and as all industrialized nations degrade to the same corrupt, whole-surveillance high-tax prisons, choices are diminished all too quickly. I fear there will be no place for me long before I die.

Am I really alone? If not, please speak up, so we can at least feel better...

Mr PondNovember 17, 2006 10:55 AM

Hmm... I think maybe there's a problem not with the, how shall I say it, intended use of the fingerprint system (i.e. to catch fraudsters & street muggers) but there does appear to be a publicity problem.

The issue, as it appears to me, is NOT that there is a huge faceless government secretly collecting reams of data on individuals who are of no interest whatsoever to them. The issue appears to be people's fear that biometricts, personal details etc. that are collected by PRIVATE COMPANIES i.e. bodies corporate, are not subjected to the same rigorous legal safeguards that exist for the same data collected by government bodies, for example the police.

As far as I understand the law here in the UK, to take a copy of my fingerprints or DNA I have to have been arrested for a particular crime. Thus, there exists a definite suspicion that I've done something wrong etc. etc.

There is no such safeguard when it comes to bodies corporate. And this is the problem - the two uses should be kept totally separate. I personally don't have a problem with the police haviong coppies of my fingerprints as I know that I do not nad have not committed a crime. I dohave a huge problem with some random car hire company having my prints as I have not a single clue as to their safe custody or the compliance of that company with the Data Protection Act.

Finally, as to the fear of some 1984-esque fascist government using our biometrics to single us out for "special treatment"... Let's stick to reality, shall we? I really don't see this happening in modern democracies such as the UK, USA etc. etc.

As Seven_Null7 commented on, risk assessments that are largely based on sensationalist conjecture rather than hard evidence really do result in poor risk management.

TimHNovember 17, 2006 12:17 PM

Mr Pond:

From http://gizmonaut.net/bits/police_state.html regarding UK:

# The Police have powers of arrest, which make all offences, no matter how trivial, into arrestable offences (Section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, came into force on 2006-01-01), and allow the Police to take DNA and fingerprints of all those arrested.


I disagree that there isn't a problem with Gov collecting all this data, and I think the presumption that all persons with access to the data bear no ill will is naive.

Larry LarmorNovember 24, 2006 4:31 AM

I called Hertz at Stansted airport ( +44 8708 460 005) and asked if I would be required to give my fingerprint to hire a car. The person at the branch I spoke to said i did not need to do so. I asked him to double check. A minute later he confirmed I did not need to.

I called Avis +44 1279 663030 and spoke to "paul". He said that it was a trial that is now over, its voluntary, he can't see any pads in teh office at the moment and they were told to shred the fingerprints after the rental is over.

Sounds like this could be an "urban legend" that we are all discussing.

However, given that I have a fingerprint door lock on my house, and that I use Omnipass fingerprint reader on my laptop to encrypt some files, I think I'll think twice before giving out my fingerprints in future.

As an aside, when I am asked by a UPS or Royal mail person to "sign for a delivery", I always use a bogus signature which is linked to the person who asks. For example, I sign as "Hugh Jaarse" for DHL, "Mr Banana" for Royal Mail etc so I can find out where a print was leaked from if it ever comes back. (Like giving out one time emails).

HuyanaOctober 20, 2009 11:22 PM

Good morning. Get pleasure out of life...as much as you can. Nobody ever died from pleasure.
I am from Lithuania and know bad English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: "We found up at the bellagio for a tabular boom and became exhaust to our hybrid words.There were no interview children even suggested to the aerodynamic transmission, still hybrid international seats were issued via the difficult performance."

With love :-), Huyana.

unluckymomFebruary 28, 2010 8:50 PM

Good Evening. My jewelry was stolen by my stepson. How long will it take for a finger prints to disappear from a jewelry box.
Thank you,
unluckymom

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Co3 Systems, Inc..