Dec 082010
 December 8, 2010  Posted by  Surveillance

Thomasi McDonald reports:

Next month, 13 law enforcement agencies in the region will begin using a new handheld device that lets an officer scan a person’s fingerprints and seek a match in an electronic database – all without going anywhere.

Police say taking fingerprints in the field will allow them to work more efficiently and safely. But the ACLU North Carolina in Raleigh worries that the device may allow officers to violate privacy rights.

The ACLU is concerned about what will become of fingerprint scans that are sent to other databases, such as the National Crime Information Center.

Read more on News & Observer. Law enforcement is denying any risk, it seems:

But those concerns are unwarranted, said Sam Pennica, director of the City-County Bureau of Identification, the agency that processes fingerprints in Wake County and is providing the devices to local agencies. The software for the device, known as Rapid Identification COPS Technology, would not store fingerprints of any individuals, even those charged with a crime, Pennica said.

“It will not retain the fingerprints of any individuals under any circumstances,” he said, adding that fingerprints would only be compared to those in the Wake County database. “They will not be submitted to any state or federal agency.”

The non-storage assurance sounds like what we were told about TSA’s nude body scanners, too. Of course, that was before we found out that 30,000 of such images were stored at a federal courthouse and some of them were uploaded to the web. But of course, that doesn’t mean that we’re being lied to about this. It only means that we should ask questions and insist on seeing technical documentation of devices as well as policy manuals.

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