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Fingerprint Mania

Posted by James Hammerton @ 7:05 pm on 3 December, 2006.
Categories privacy and surveillance, British politics, the database state.
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Revised Update: It appears I got things wrong when I first updated this article.

David Mery, in the comments on this article, points out that you can be fingerprinted, and your DNA to be taken, and kept indefinitely, regardless of whether you’re charged or convicted, when arrested for a recordable offence.

In January this year, most criminal offences were made recordable, and arrestable without a warrant. Beforehand the offence had to carry more than 5 years in prison if you were to be arrested without a warrant. I.e. this is another avenue for the government to get your prints and other biometrics. The relevant legislation is Section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. Many thanks to David for correcting me on this point.


Should the British government make its ID cards compulsory for everyone (which Labour plan to do in 2010, with those renewing passports having to register for the cards from 2009), they’ll get the fingerprints from every permanent resident of Britain stored in the National Identity Register.

In the meantime, it seems the authorities are coming up with all sorts of schemes to get hold of them anyway:

At this rate, how long will it be before your fingerprint is required routinely for everyday tasks?

Interestingly, Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner has made the fingerprinting of school kids illegal, offering us the spectacle of (admittedly a liberal province of) China starting to protect privacy more seriously than Britain does.

1 Comment

  1. One important scheme missing is the power to take fingerprints of anyone arrested for a recordable offense, ie most offenses these days. These used to be in the NAFIS system and now IDENT1. (And on these occasions they also get palm prints and DNA samples - for good effect).

    br -d

    Comment by David Mery — 4 December, 2006 @ 11:45 pm | Edit This


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