A question for a lawyer (or a wannabe-lawyer)

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A question for a lawyer (or a wannabe-lawyer)

Postby Tagliatelle on Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:42 pm

This page wrote:My way of objecting to fingerprints. ( Especially for the U.S. Visit program )

The day I have to use my fingerprint for _any_ identification purpose, will be the same day that I make a high resolution scan of my fingerprints available on the Internet. Cryptographers have a term for this: "Plausible deniability"

By reducing the identificational value of my fingerprint to nill. (Everyone, even Osama, can make a gelatine cast of my prints ), I am simultaniously making them worthless for the U.S. government...


As a recent tourist to the US, I found the whole fingerprint thing rather draconian... my question to you is:

Would a defence based on this premise stand up in court?

EDIT - Yes, I know you'd have to be very brave to do this and then risk being stopped at the US border (or looked up by Interpol) for 80 zillion murders, etc...
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Postby Tibbiara on Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:07 am

Almost certainly not. While there have been cases of people using methods like this to disguise identity or introduce doubt (I seem to recall hearing about a very strange rape case involving smuggling sperm samples out of prison), I doubt any judge or jury will accept the idea that whoever committed this crime just happened to download and make a mold of your fingerprints, as opposed to your committing the crime. Even if anyone theoretically could have used your prints, they still have non-trivial value because the chance of someone using them in this way is trivial. (They would still, for example, be a more binding form of identification than your average non-photo ID; ID cards can and do get stolen much more often than this elaborate gelatin-mold-of-fingerprints thing happens, and while it's degraded the value of non-photo ID, it hasn't removed it.)

My question in kind: say that this unlikely event actually did come to pass -- A scans his fingerprints, and without A's knowledge, B makes a mold and uses it to commit a crime. Could A say to be aiding and abetting that crime? After all, A did deliberately make public information that aided in the commitment of a crime, and he even seems to expect that his prints would be used in this way.

OBVIOUS EDIT: I'm not a lawyer. This is just a speculation.
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Postby Deathless on Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:16 am

I'm not familiar with the laws on the subject, but legally speaking, if the law exists, it can't be selectively enforced, unless it's specifically written into the law to say only certain people need to have their prints taken. Exceptions to laws can't arbitrarily be granted in court, even if the law in question seems impractical under the circumstances.

I'm not a lawyer, but I do want to go to law school in a couple years.

I found the whole fingerprint thing rather draconian


Yeah, all the stuff they do for security these days can seem pretty audacious. I really don't like the situation.
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Postby Tagliatelle on Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:17 am

I agree that it would be implausible for a random criminal to use your prints rather than, say, completely featureless gloves. However, even if a random criminal did do this, chances are you'd have a pretty unbreakable alibi, since the likelihood of the crime being anywhere near your house is pretty small. To ensure this, maybe you would just post your fingerprints without any other identifying information. If you didn't organised crime would certainly use your fingerprints because you're in the area and there's the chance they could make the crime stick to you rather than them.

However, what if a "friend" wanted to commit a crime and frame you? They could theoretically both frame you and ensure you had no alibi. Thus, if you wanted to commit a particularly heinous crime, you would be able to say that someone else close to you might have had the motive and opportunity. However, this would only work if the fingerprints were publicly associated with your identity. Otherwise, how would they have known that this particular set of prints was yours?

So, if you put details of your identity alongside the fingerprints, you would lower your defences against organised crime. If you put the fingerprints up anonymously, you would lose your defence from malicious people close to you who knew you had done this.

So maybe the whole strategy is self-defeating after all.

Could A say to be aiding and abetting that crime? After all, A did deliberately make public information that aided in the commitment of a crime, and he even seems to expect that his prints would be used in this way.


I don't think so. Why would a criminal bother with the elaborate gel-thing when he could simply use normal gloves? Maybe a more appropriate sanction would be "wasting police time".

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[threadjack]

That page also has one of the best comebacks I've ever heard:

Richard Furlong states: "People say, 'if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear', I always say, well how much do you earn then?"

I prefer "Do you have curtains?"


[/threadjack]
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Postby Tibbiara on Sat Oct 28, 2006 3:31 am

Yeah, the "gloves" issue is the big breaker here. I really can't see a situation barring an elaborate personal frame-up when a criminal would possibly rather do this gelatin-mold fingerprint thing over just wearing gloves... and if you're talking about an elaborate personal frameup, they can get your fingerprints and DNA by other means, most likely.
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