July 7, 2008

DHS: Fingerprints Are Not “Personal Data”

Written by Ann Shibler
Wednesday, 28 May 2008 10:30

Fingerprints are not “personal data”; waterboarding is not torture; Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; war is peace; and on and on and on. You get the picture.

Even though fingerprints are the most unique and solitary feature a human has — everyone’s are different, including those of identical twins who share the same DNA — Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has the effrontery to say that fingerprints are not personal data. When asked about the privacy aspects of the newly proposed FBI initiated “Server in the Sky,” a database of fingerprints to be shared among the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, and others, Chertoff responded, “Well first of all, a fingerprint is hardly personal data because you leave it on glasses and silverware and articles all over the world, they’re like footprints. They’re not particularly private.”

Well, the prints may not be so private in this age of technology, but they are still plenty personal. But this logic of Chertoff’s, perhaps prevarication is a better word, is leading somewhere. It allows the security czar to continue his quest for complete obliteration of the 4th Amendment, as he knowingly tries to confuse the public with games of semantics. If fingerprints are not personal data, then he and his cohorts won’t need pesky search warrants to collect your, by definition, now-public data.

Chertoff’s accomplices in the Senate Committee on Banking passed a measure, now introduced as S.2595, by a vote of 19-2 that would bail out the housing industry to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars, colleted as new taxes, or in the form of more deficit spending. Cleverly hidden in the text of the legislation is a plan to create a new national fingerprint registry that covers just about everyone involved in the mortgage business — lenders, loan originators and real estate agents. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) gets some of the credit for the revised legislation that was attached to the Senate housing legislation. “We know that today the rules governing mortgage brokers and lenders are inadequate. There is just a thin patchwork of regulation that varies from state to state. This legislation will create basic minimum standards for states to utilize to protect consumers.”

Feinstein and friends — click here for committee members — have covertly passed that measure that would create a federal fingerprint registry completely unrelated to real national security without public discussion or notice as a manager’s amendment. The collection and submission of fingerprints are mentioned in Section 605, Line 22, and Section 607, Line 24.

Whether or not Chertoff’s happy participation in the “Server in the Sky” proposal and the Senate Banking Committee’s plan to fingerprint those in the mortgage and lending business are related, doesn’t really matter – it’s the mentality for the justification of such an invasive and obviously unconstitutional method that matters. Innocent individuals who work in the mortgage and lending industry would be required to submit their prints to the federal government as though they were common criminals, considered as guilty and their activities tracked and monitored by the feds just to keep on making a living. There are no provisions in the bill that address security procedures, but that doesn’t really matter either, because we’re dealing with principle here.

Chertoff's recent moves may, in fact, create more problems involving identity theft, as security experts say hackers can steal electronic images of fingerprints directly from the databases – it’s already been done by a German hacker’s club. And of course we all remember the Veteran Administrations’ stolen data.

To institute a central fingerprint database as a supposed response to a financial problem that was created by bad federal policies in the first place, and that does nothing to address those problems, is typical for the present regime that wants every one registered and documented — apparently because it is easier to enslave us that way.

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