1996-05-14 - Re: Fingerprinting annoyance

Header Data

From: Black Unicorn <unicorn@schloss.li>
To: Cypherpunks <cypherpunks@toad.com>
Message Hash: 9cc3f46018baa6a1839ef62f43456bbcdbfbd72361b0191474bf30feb2398d68
Message ID: <Pine.SUN.3.93.960513225555.28004C-100000@polaris.mindport.net>
Reply To: <199605131344.PAA05388@spoof.bart.nl>
UTC Datetime: 1996-05-14 11:44:57 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 19:44:57 +0800

Raw message

From: Black Unicorn <unicorn@schloss.li>
Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 19:44:57 +0800
To: Cypherpunks <cypherpunks@toad.com>
Subject: Re: Fingerprinting annoyance
In-Reply-To: <199605131344.PAA05388@spoof.bart.nl>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.93.960513225555.28004C-100000@polaris.mindport.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Mon, 13 May 1996, Senator Exon wrote:

> in connection with a character and fitness report i have been
> asked to supply a review board with a set of my fingerprints
> i have never been fingerprinted before
> i am not very keen on the idea now
> of course refusing will attract suspicion
> short of getting someone else to put their fingers in ink for
> me does anyone have a cute method by which to obscure my prints
> on those cute little cards without it being obvious?
> i can fill out and manipulate the card myself i just need a
> working method.
> is there no privacy advocate who can help me?

This all depends on your application.

If you're trying to avoid specific identification when you are already a
suspect of some crime or some such, you're in trouble.  Short of finding a
dead person with no print record himself and no prior history, you don't
have many options.

Using someone else's prints risks you acquiring their criminal record of
past present and future.

If, on the other hand, you are seeking to preemptively foil later computer
checks of your prints you are in luck.

Most fingerprint indexing schemes rely on specific features in prints
which are ranked and reduced to a checksum of sorts.  To foil a massive
nation wide computer search which may flag your prints, you have to be
sure that the checksum of the prints you submit and the actual checksum of
your real prints are two significantly different values.

Generally speaking fingerprint requirements that are not related
to national security issues permit you to submit a card with the signature
of a "law enforcement officer" who made the prints.  I assume that this is
the case with your situation.

In this event you can indeed do the prints yourself.  Simply use a foam
(not felt) ink pad to make the print impressions on the card.  Sign
whatever name you feel sounds official.  (The GPO prints out standard
cards for this exact purpose, I assume you have one already).

Before doing your own prints, go out and buy some superglue (gel is best)
and the finest sewing needle you can find.

Those places which are covered in superglue will repel the ink and leave a
blank spot when your finger is rolled across paper or the card.

By applying a very small amount of superglue to the high ranking features
of your fingerprints using the needle as a sort of paintbrush, you can
alter the computer checksum of your prints without attracting undue
attention to the visual appearance of the prints you submit.  Think of it
as the ability to erace certain features of your prints.  Obviously it is
important to know which features are significant to the indexing
system.  I'm not enough of an expert to know myself how to describe them
to you nor do I know for certain the most recent ranking systems of

This is a tedious process and causes hand cramps.  It is, however,
extremely effective when properly done.

Any national computer search trying to locate the identity of your
real prints will likely skip right by your earlier submitted and distorted
prints.  A visual inspection, however, is unlikely to be fooled.

Some others have given you the advice that you should simply "refuse to
submit" prints.  I disagree.  A distorted record, especially if you create
one pre-emptively, will be especially beneficial while a refusal will
simply attract attention.  I recognize that some of the people on the list
here are a bit more "in your face" about their politics, but it is, for
example, hard to practice law without a professional license.  All the
constitutional arguments in the world don't mean anything when it comes to
actually making a living without a required professional license.

I compare it to the ease with which one submits a fake social security
number rather than simply refuse to submit one at all.  A fake one wont
raise any eyebrows, refusal will.

"What do you have to hide anyhow? Eh?"

Best of luck.

My preferred and soon to be permanent e-mail address:unicorn@schloss.li
"In fact, had Bancroft not existed,       potestas scientiae in usu est
Franklin might have had to invent him."    in nihilum nil posse reverti
00B9289C28DC0E55  E16D5378B81E1C96 - Finger for Current Key Information
Opp. Counsel: For all your expert testimony needs: jimbell@pacifier.com