Selasa, 12 Agustus 2008

Testing Fingerprints for Illicit Substances

Could your fingerprints tell more about you than just who you are? A brief report in Science this month describes a technique that could allow crime investigators or even employers to analyze fingerprints for a variety of chemicals, including explosives and substances of abuse, such as cocaine. And since the chemicals would be determined from a single fingerprint, there would be no doubt as to who had handled the substances.

Law enforcement officials and crime investigators will welcome the technique as another weapon in their arsenal against crime. But the ability to test fingerprints for certain chemicals could also raise some privacy concerns for us all. Would we consider it ethical for an employer to enter workers’ offices to check for fingerprints containing traces of illegal drugs, without the employee’s knowledge or consent?

Reference: “Latent Fingerprint Chemical Imaging by Mass Spectrometry”. Science 321:805, August 8, 2008.

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