Fingerprinting used to take genuine work – there used to be only so many machines capable of taking good, clean prints and they had to be certified. If officers wanted your prints, it had to be worth the effort.
Now we have fingerprint readers in our cell phones and so does law enforcement. Being stopped on the street and told “Show me your papers” isn’t good enough, it’s been taken to the next level. There are certainly benefits to being able to check criminal databases instantly, I question the privileges that come with it and lack of oversight on the scene.
True, it’s not come to the US yet (articles above are all in the UK), but every technology tried there has in the past and this “makes law enforcement easier”, so if US law enforcement is happy to build facial recognition into their street cameras without telling citizens about it, what’s to stop them from downloading the same app the UK developed?
If the police can rape you, what makes you think they won’t fingerprint everyone they see if it makes their jobs any easier? (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/16/charnesia-corley-houston-texas-police-dashcam-video)
Riding the light rail in Denver can be scary. Every once in a while SWAT teams go over cars asking passengers to see their tickets, and sometimes there are checkpoints when you get off at the end such that everyone coming off the cars is checked. Placing fingerprint readers at these checkpoints is a logical progression.
The biggest question of course is “What if they do? So what?” In this age of fitting crimes to people instead of finding the people who committed the crimes, it can add a false sense of security and a false argument to the courtroom.
Lastly, the premise of the fifth amendment is to ensure law enforcement comes to the citizen with proof of wrongdoing. A person is allowed not to incriminate one’s self in order to put the onus of proof on the authorities. Here’s an example of what can happen when we allow technology to lead us in the wrong direction:
What can be done about it?
- The technology makes life easier for law enforcement, it’s not only not going to go away but will be rapidly improved and interconnected.
- If you resist, the officer won’t like it (obviously s/he already doesn’t care about infringement on rights) and will surely harass you as much as they think they can get away with. it is at this time not legally compulsory but be prepared to spend the night in jail if you don’t comply.
- Messing with your fingerprints in situ is pretty tricky (glue on the pad or making your fingers super-wet) since when it doesn’t work, the cop will surely have you wipe off your finger in front of him/her or try the other hand.
Unfortunately the best thing we can do is vote and be politically active. We can’t allow our government to make laws that trample our freedoms and regimes like Trump do this without a second thought – who you vote for matters.
If you can come up with other ideas please comment below!