Sign up FAST! Login

Your Fingerprints Are About to Reveal a Lot More About You

Your Fingerprints Are About to Reveal a Lot More About You

A new technology will allow authorities to tell whether you used drugs recently, if you're a smoker, even what sex you are—all from your fingerprints.


Stashed in: Science!, Privacy does not exist., Drugs!, Privacy, Interesting Tidbits

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Is there any way to see this as a good thing?

Cost savings, time saved - perhaps lives saved.

But imagine if there were more to fingerprint science than running patterns of whorls through a database. Picture forensic investigators using fingerprints to find out whether the person who left them was a smoker, whether they had recently handled drugs or explosives, or even to determine their gender. 

"We had a suspicion the suspect was a guy, because people had seen the victim with someone. If we knew early on how to eliminate the female prints, we could have just focused on the male prints," said Sgt. Patricia Wisneski, crime scene investigative unit manager for the Guilford County Sheriff's Office in Greensboro. While the man in the murder case was eventually arrested, officers might have found him a lot faster if they'd been able to analyze fingerprints this way.

Now, they are. The Guilford County Sheriff's Department is one of several law enforcement agencies testing a new fingerprint technology that can analyze metabolites left behind in fingerprint residue for a variety of factors. The ability to eliminate certain crime scene prints from the start enables investigators to send out fewer samples to be tested for DNA, which can be a costly and time-consuming process, Wisneski said. Knowing whether the person had handled drugs or explosives doesn't hurt, either.

"Knowing any additional information about a suspect is always helpful and can generally lead the detectives in the right direction earlier in an investigation. Obtaining information sooner is always better than later," Wisneski said.​

Lives saved might make it worth it. But whew the privacy red flags are up the yin yang on this one!

You May Also Like: