Highway robbery

November 22nd, 2006

Hacking through the jungle of “haven’t we heard all this before?” , wading through the river of “Is there anything more to say?” and adjusting our hat to avoid the bright rays of “PRopaganda dressed as news” seems to having an effect on one’s system. The daily news once more seems to me a set of evolving illusions – popular tropes that need regular spinning lest they fall off needle thin spires of truth – just as it did in the mid-90s.

Anyway I caught the end of the Toady programme this morning which had some news about the introduction of portable fingerprint detectors. In the first instance I was dumbfounded by the sheer futility of the excercise as it will stand:

Experts hope the device will save massive amounts of police time and money by allowing officers to identify suspects on the roadside without having to take them to the station.

A pilot scheme – called Project Lantern – will be used in Luton, Bedfordshire, by officers targeting motoring offences.

The gadget allows officers to search 6.5 million fingerprints archived on the National Automated Fingerprint System, with the trial aiming to give them a result within five minutes.

The Home Office’s Police Information Technology Organisation (Pito) calculates it could save more than 2.2m a year.

Fingerprints can only be taken from the public voluntarily using the Lantern system because the law will have to be changed before officers can force people to give prints on the street.

Guardian

So for the system to ‘work’:
1) a person needs to alreday be on a police database.
2) said person needs to give their consent (incredibly likely, no?)

Additionally the spokesman on the Toady programme informed us that new fingerprints would not be added to the database and records would be deleted at the end of the day or on request (actually a good thing – not as good as prints not being taken though).

But then what does the system ‘working’ mean? Presumably it will allow truth-telling people with a criminal record to be identified more quickly. Hooray.

NO.

That is not what this device ‘working’ means.

This is part of the softening up procedure to make ‘procedural’ fingerprint taking and police access to a population database acceptable. Remember:

Fingerprints can only be taken from the public voluntarily using the Lantern system because the law will have to be changed before officers can force people to give prints on the street.

And believe me this Government will be all too ready to change the law to follow the technological ‘solution’.
This Government wants acceptance of a fully populated ‘criminal’ database (that is everyone has a criminal record, empty or otherwise)
This Government wants it’s NIR-centred biometric databases to be complete and pervasive.

But I’m sure we’ve said this before.

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