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Device Detects Drug Use Via Fingerprints 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the giving-it-the-finger-test dept.
cylonlover writes "Fingerprints have been used to confirm or determine peoples' identities for over one hundred years now, but new technology is allowing them to be put to another use — drug testing. Intelligent Fingerprinting (a spin-off company affiliated with the UK's University of East Anglia) has just unveiled a prototype portable device that can detect the presence of illicit drugs or other substances in a person's system by analyzing the sweat in their fingerprints."
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Device Detects Drug Use Via Fingerprints

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  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:30AM (#38021294) Homepage Journal

    Get called out for somebody collapsing in the street. Press their sweaty fingers to a reader. System reads back any known medical history for that person, as well as any interesting chemicals detected by the reader.

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      To be fair you can usually identify a genuine collapse from a DOAB. The empty Stella tins and unkempt appearance are sufficient.

    • by DMFNR (1986182) on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:33AM (#38021312)

      Get pulled over for a burned out tail light. You're tired and look a bit under the weather. Cop presses your sweaty fingers to the reader. You go to jail for a joint you smoked 5 days ago.

      • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:38AM (#38021338) Homepage

        What kind of dystopian hell-hole do you live in where you can be jailed for having traces of drug metabolites in your system? Even Iran isn't *that* bad...

        • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:43AM (#38021352)

          America. Home of the Free, Land of the Brave.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:43AM (#38021358)

          While not necessarily going to jail, you'll at least be going on foot for quite a while in Germany as this will cost you your driver's licence. Yes, even if that joint was a week ago. They won't take the licence because you were under the influence, but because even thinking about taking drugs shows that you are morally unfit for driving. Godwin's law will be invoked in 3... 2... 1...

          • by paiute (550198) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:39AM (#38021838)

            While not necessarily going to jail, you'll at least be going on foot for quite a while in Germany as this will cost you your driver's licence. Yes, even if that joint was a week ago. They won't take the licence because you were under the influence, but because even thinking about taking drugs shows that you are morally unfit for driving. Godwin's law will be invoked in

            drei...zwei...ein...

          • by Pecisk (688001)

            Nazi!

            Wait, too soon.

        • by __Paul__ (1570) on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:45AM (#38021364) Homepage

          What kind of dystopian hell-hole do you live in where you can be jailed for having traces of drug metabolites in your system? Even Iran isn't *that* bad...

          Victoria, Australia [trafficlaw.com.au]

          • by Pecisk (688001)

            Well, keywords are "driving *under* influence", right?

            • by six025 (714064) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:30AM (#38021796)

              Well, keywords are "driving *under* influence", right?

              No ...

              driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle when your saliva or blood contains any trace of illicit drugs

              Peace,
              Andy.

              • by Pecisk (688001)

                Well, then it's simply wrong, very overreaching and kinda useless for main reason - avoid tragic accidents on streets.

                • by Dunbal (464142) *
                  Reason? They don't need a "reason" anymore. The reason is "because we can".
                • Well, then it's simply wrong, very overreaching and kinda useless for main reason - avoid tragic accidents on streets.

                  That might not be the main reason.

            • by msobkow (48369)

              The problem is the test would only be probably cause for an analysis of whether you are intoxicated or not, but it would probably not be used that way. The police already use metabolite-based tests to "prove" you're a cannabis user, even though the 60-day old metabolites prove nothing about whether you're intoxicated.

              • by msobkow (48369)

                I remember reading about a case where someone's urine tested positive for cocaine. The police tried to use that as evidence of "possession", because the person "possessed" their blood. A truly twisted way of looking at things, as the individual did not physically have drugs to justify charges.

                I don't know what ever happened to the case, nor do I remember which state is was in.

                Never underestimate the willingness of a jackboot drug-war official to pervert the system to "do justice."

          • by whoda (569082)

            There are numerous states in the USA which have metabolite laws. Arizona being the first one that pops into mind.

        • by mikael_j (106439) on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:49AM (#38021392)

          That's how it works in Sweden. You go to Amsterdam over the weekend, smoke a couple of joints, come back to Sweden, hit the bars the next weekend, a cop sees you on the street and thinks you look "tired" (I have myself been threatened with arrest for drug use on my way home from work on a friday night when a police officer approached me and stated I looked, that's right, "tired". A joke I've heard from Swedish cannabis smokers is that Sweden is the only country in the world where you can get arrested for being happy or sleep-deprived), arrests you, you get to urinate into a cup, they find 11-COOH-THC or 11-OH-THC in your urine and that's it, you just got a conviction for drug use on your record.

          The reason we have this system you ask? In the 80s the right-wing parties were falling behind in polls so they started ranting about rampant drug use and how use itself needed to be made illegal (despite the fact that at the time reported drug use among Swedes was at a multi-decade low), as always the left decided to join in on the "OMG DRUGS!!1" panic and a law was passed making drug use illegal (prior to that regular users were only arrested for possession, not use). A few years later they realized the law was rarely used since you could only be fined for drug use (which meant the police weren't allowed to force you to take a drug test) so they promptly added the possibility of jail time for drug use.

          Why hasn't this been abolished? Because our politicians who deal with drug-related matters don't know anything about it beyond the political consensus that we need to "send the right signals" to people who use drugs (or might start using drugs) and happily dismiss the opinions of actual experts. Welcome to Sweden, where "signals" are more important than sanity (I don't remember which politician it was but one of them famously stated that she thought it was more important to send the right signals than it was to save lives).

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          With the TSA on a highway near you, expect to be scanned and enjoy some "behaviour detection". If you dare quote your rights expect to meet the local "Big Bob".
          http://www.allgov.com/Controversies/ViewNews/Tennessee_First_State_to_Allow_TSA_Highway_Random_Search_Program_111108 [allgov.com]
          If a drug dog can walk "around" your car, expect something like this to be tested soon.
        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          Yet.
        • Some prosecutors in the United States have tried to put people in jail for possession of drugs in their blood. This is why the United States jails more of its citizens than Iran and China (and any other country; executions do not even come close to closing this gap).
        • by Aryden (1872756)
          Possession by consumption, you do not have to be actively under the influence. You can merely have the drug in your system and you can be charged with this.
        • by whoda (569082)

          What kind of dystopian hell-hole do you live in where you can be jailed for having traces of drug metabolites in your system? Even Iran isn't *that* bad...

          He lives in Arizona or one of the other states which have a drugged driving law that includes metabolites.

          "In Arizona, it is unlawful for a person to drive a vehicle (1) while under the influence of any drug, or any combination of liquor and/or drugs if the person is impaired to the slightest degree, OR (2) while there is any drug or its metabolite in the person's body. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 28-1381(A)(1), (3) (West 2010)

        • by swb (14022)

          In South Dakota, testing positive for a drug is considered possession.

          How fucked up is that?

        • by ClintJCL (264898)
          But Dubai is. Go through a Dubai airport, even on a layover, even as a non citizen - if they find you suspicious and you test as having done drugs, you will be jailed for years for internal consumption. and internal consumption laws are proposed in USA all the time. In fact, there may be some on the books for people who get tested when pulled over. I think ILlinois or Wisconsin or something in that area had a law like that on the books. It's not for Iran. BTW We're the ones who imprison 25% of all imprisone
        • What kind of dystopian hell-hole do you live in where you can be jailed for having traces of drug metabolites in your system?

          Nine U.S. states [nih.gov] actually explicitly ban 'internal possession' of alcohol - alcohol detectable by blood, breath, or urine test - by individuals under 21.

          Several of those states, oddly enough, make it legal for under-21s to consume alcohol in specific settings (often in their home, or under the supervision of adults or guardians.) Missouri has no restrictions on consumption by under-21s, but does bar internal possession.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        You go to jail for a joint you smoked 5 days ago.

        ...or the poppy seed bagel you ate for lunch!

        • by pryoplasm (809342)

          Why go to jail when you can get your newborn baby taken away? for the same bagel....

          http://www.wkbn.com/mostpopular/story/Baby-Taken-After-Mom-Eats-Bagel/OhvLyWdMv0ytIACx7vGE1w.cspx [wkbn.com]

        • Umm... if you can prove that a poppy seed bagel can cause a positive test result, doesn't that mean that you're still innocent until proven guilty otherwise? I mean, that leaves enough room for doubt, right?

          • by BVis (267028)

            You must be new here. The American "justice system" is nothing of the sort. You've got metabolites in your system, you've been doing illegal drugs, end of story. Enjoy your fine/jail time.

          • I understand the standard practice is for the prosection to offer a plea bargin: "Plead guilty, and we'll go easy. Sure, you'll have a criminal record and a short stay in jail, but that's it. Or you could fight this. Maybe you'll win, maybe you'll lose... and if you lose, we're going to utterly destroy your life, jail you for years, render you unemployable and pry through your personal records for any hint of wrongdoing we can use to add more charges."
          • by Greyfox (87712)
            Mythbusters already tackled that one. It can, at least for the home drug tests they used. I eat a lot of poppy seed rolls and I've never had it result in a lost employment opportunity due to a failed drug test.
          • by Joce640k (829181)

            I mean, that leaves enough room for doubt, right?

            Sure; but by the time you've proved it you've already had your whole week ruined and it's cost you a lot of effort and money.

          • by sjames (1099)

            Yes, and I'm sure your public defender will vigorously pursue that option at your hearing, right after he meets you for the first time in the courtroom.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Someone cue up the Ayn Rand criminal quote, because it seems like a perfect use for it. After all since they have been privatizing the penal system those at the top can make good money on all those "criminals".

        Kinda a shame though, once upon a time this was a decent country, now it is just some rich pigs at the top figuring out every scam they can to fuck everyone else.

        Personally I predict when Europe collapses which will be the final nail in our coffin thanks to Goldman Sachs and friends quietly shifting a

        • by swalve (1980968)
          When the Fed buys assets, they aren't creating debt for the United States. The Federal Reserve is completely separate. If one of their assets goes funny, they just write it off. This adds to inflation slightly, since there is cash out in the wild that doesn't have an asset backing it up, but if that becomes a problem, the Fed can just sell a good asset and pull that cash back out of the wild. Quantitative easing is a risky business, but if they do it right, it will work out just fine. They just have to
          • by Dunbal (464142) *

            When the Fed buys assets, they aren't creating debt for the United States.

            No? Where does the money come from that they are using to buy said assets? I suggest you take a basic course in economics.

            • by swalve (1980968)
              I suggest you get your money back for the one you took. This may help to repair the damage. [wikipedia.org]
            • No? Where does the money come from that they are using to buy said assets? I suggest you take a basic course in economics.

              It comes from the tip of a pen, of course! Well, these days it comes from strokes on a keyboard, but the concept is the same. They take your asset and add a corresponding value to your bank account; no government debt involved.

      • There are trace amounts of cocaine on a huge percentage of US Currency (a percentage that gets higher as you get closer to DC). I wonder about false positives from illicit substances that were not, in fact, used by the scanned individual.

        On a side-note, I don't recall any Trek episodes about tricorder false positives... (except for deliberate ones)

    • by sjames (1099)

      Save patient, get popped for drug use because patient was loaded with heroine.

      It should be interesting to see the results of the test for cocaine or cash as well. The test for opiates or bagels will be a good one.

  • Seriously, I can only hope that the people at UEA DIAF because a fireman was suspended for having a joint a week ago, because their technology made it easier to drug test them.

    If you're working to support the war on drugs, you're a money-grabbing fascist. Go and research how to make drugs that can't be detected by sniffer dogs and make the law a farce and we might see a change in them.

  • Great Ford! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Noitatsidem (1701520) on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:52AM (#38021414)

    Oh brave new world, what have you become? Just look at you, we were all supposed to turn into Ford worshiping, drug driven sex fiends, instead we do the exact opposite!

  • It detects drugs from your sweat not your fingerprints. Sweat exists on your fingers but it can really be used elsewhere on the body. Poor title.
    • by HBI (604924)

      I can think of somewhere sweaty where they can use this...

    • by qwak23 (1862090)

      Yes, but if you RTFA you'll see they use your fingerprints as a means of ID'ing the sample. So yes, you could test the sweat from anywhere, but by testing the fingerprint (really fingertip is probably a better word) they can link the results to a unique identifier. In the world of drug testing this is very important as one, people like to try to cheat the tests, two, people could use the test to frame others, and any discrepencies in the process could get the result overturned on legal grounds. (IANAL, h

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday November 11, 2011 @07:43AM (#38021600)

    ... false positive.

    Scrub hands thoroughly just before the test: you're in the clear.

    TFA says the system is impossible to cheat. I'd like to see this presumptuous statement put to the test and stats released to believe it.

    • Cyanoacrylate.

      1. Wash hands.
      2. Apply superglue to fingertips.
      3. Wash again.
      It sets instantly on contact with skin and forms a water-impermiable layer to prevent fresh sweat getting through. The only problem is you might be too clean, and a well-programmed tester would recognise an attempted fraud from the complete lack of sweat to test.
  • The next step to take advantage of this technological development is to scan for the profiles of drugs like serotonin, dopamine etc. in order to assess whether the subject (or should one say object?) is planning to, i.e., hijack an aircraft. Of course, in the US, the national security argument will take care of further improving the mechanism up to the level of continuous 24/7 scanning of all the sheeple.

    CC.

  • Fingerprints have been used to confirm or determine peoples' identities for over one hundred years now

    I suppose that's technically accurate, but a better phrasing would probably have been "throughout recorded history".

  • Maybe I'm just optimistic this morning, but this could be the first step to a better society. One of the reasons people resist the legalization of drugs is the lack of ability to test people who are driving under the influence of drugs. If tests like these prove to be accurate, then there is one less excuse for people to oppose the legalization of drugs. Of course, there are many other reasons why people support drug prohibition, but we have to take one step at a time.
  • I'm giving him steroids for inflammation and barbiturates for seizures, both of which get all over my hands cuz he doesn't exactly cooperate. I don't have a personal prescription for either, so I guess I'd be flagged as a drug abuser if my fingerprints were scanned.

  • ... to wash your hands well after grabbing the ass of that skanky stripper at the titty club.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson

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