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Biometric fingerprints hit a glitch and a virus.

05 May 2008  |  3795 views  |  0

Fingerprint analysis appears to have hit a glitch and China has another virus.

Dusting for prints is one of the key forensic tools used by Police investigators everywhere.

Considered by juries as being irrefutable proof of guilt, there is no real standard for fingerprint comparison and analysis.

The FBI allege accuracy as high as 98% and processes 140,000 per day in their automatic fingerprint ID system.

How would that be for customer account identification? 

Luckily the FBI don't have to maintain a call center to handle the complaints.

Yet it is used for very serious criminal cases. Recently 3 FBI experts testified that an innocent  man was in Spain blowing up trains, on the basis of fingerprint evidence. If the Spanish police hadn't found the real perpetrator would the innocent person have gone to prison or been executed? The Madrid print had 20 similar matches. $2 million and an apology later we are left to wonder. Coincidentally he appeared to have been of the Islamic faith.

A US judge cited in a recent court decision in the US described fingerprint evidence as a 'subjective untested unverifiable investigation procedure' and excluded fingerprint evidence from the trial.

98% accurate isn't really good enough is it?

China (entero) virus slows the fingerprint biometrics market?

Authorities are trying to control an outbreak of what they describe as hand-foot-mouth disease, commonly blamed on a coxsackievirus infection. Often caused by a potentially dangerous virus Enterovirus 71 (EV71). Children may develop meningitis leading to paralysis more commonly in children from 2 - 5 years of age.

Spread by respiratory droplets and through contact with the fluid from the blisters or contact with infected faeces. A person is infectious for for at least 2 months after symptoms develop, or as long as the virus is present in the faeces. There is no proven treatment for the virus. 

Good hygiene is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of the disease. Hands should be washed thoroughly in soap and water for at least 15 seconds and then dried thoroughly. It is important to wash hands after going to the toilet, touching soiled linen or articles and before preparing or eating food. [Do modern jets carry enough water for the 300+ passengers to spend a combined total of 4 1/2 hours washing their hands on a long flight?] Hmmm.. and of course you have to not touch any surfaces which could be infected such as door handles, elevator buttons, taps, handrails, etc.

Advice

Any surface you touch could be infected. Stay away from those fingerprint scanners while traveling near infected areas. Put your card through the reader yourself and use your own pen if signing, and no PIN unless you have gloves on.  Did that last passenger have it? Did the immigration person wash their hands between examining passports?

We don't want to bring it home to the kids do we?

Perhaps mobile transactions and passports might be appropriate. The contactless card and passport guys will be on to this.

UPDATE

As of Wednesday Chinese Authorities were admitting to 16,000 cases over several provinces and including the city of Bejing where childcare centres are being closed. There has been no official count in several other provinces but health workers describe it as an epidemic.

H5N1 Avian influenza is also maintaning it's prescence in Northern Japan, China and Korea where all efforts by culling have failed to eradicate the virus. Few known cases of human to human transmission have been documented but it appears that close contact with an infected person or bird is enough to get it.

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