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Rental Car - Thumbprint = No Rental Car 22

An anonymous submitter sends: "Wired is reporting that $$$ Rental Cars is requiring a thumbprint to rent a car... No thumbprint, NO RENTAL CAR FOR YOU!" I thought the rental car business was in trouble with the recent decline in tourism. I guess not.
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Rental Car - Thumbprint = No Rental Car

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  • I like it! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ( 152591 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2001 @01:19PM (#2596561) Homepage
    Frankly, I kind of like the idea. I really don't see how Dollar having your finger print poses any personal security threat, and if it will in fact deter thieves, then I'm all for it. Think of it this way, if you're renting they already have your Drivers License info and probably a major credit card. Unless this gets linked into a federal database which the gov't could use to track your whereabouts, I don't see a problem (and frankly, if you're using a drivers license and credit card, they ALREADY have everything they need to track you).

    What I DO disagree with is the section in the article that says "One agency, Acme Car Rental in Connecticut, went so far as to surreptitiously install GPS in its fleet. The tracking system was only discovered when a man was fined by Acme for speeding, in violation of the agency's rules." Now that bothers me, simply because I don't believe it's any of their damn business where I go. So long as their car gets returned in good shape, they should butt out.
    • Re:I like it! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JofCoRe ( 315438 )
      Isn't the only way that it could be of any use to them is if it was linked to some sort of national database?

      I'd rather keep my fingerprints out of as many people's hands as possible... never know if I might need to commit a crime sometime :)
      • Re:I like it! (Score:4, Informative)

        by ( 152591 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2001 @01:43PM (#2596748) Homepage
        Isn't the only way that it could be of any use to them is if it was linked to some sort of national database?

        No. Your prints are on paper, and no one cares about them unless you don't return your rental car. When that happens, Dollar can go to the police, and (assuming your drivers license and credit card were fake), they at least have something to go on. Sure, at *that* point they may be cross checked against the national FBI fingerprint database, but only if you don't return the car.

        I can see potential usefulness and potential problems. It all depends on how its used. If it saves me $10 a day on a rental car, I'll submit to it (of course, at this point my fingerprints are already in the FBI database, since I applied for a security clearance a few years back).

        • Idoit...

          The company has no responsiablity to make sure the the print is right for the name or kept safe. If the GOV walks up and say "For $1 Million, I want to buy your finger print database." Guess what, its sold. Just like the Secert Service (SS) was doing with the states for the photographic from your drive linecse, for a national database of "check clearing", then we all found out... was for tracking people.

          Now think credit reporting... some one screws up and gets the wrong finger print with your name... you lose again... YOU AIN'T YOU.

          Refuse to use Dollar. Further, if they want you sig on an electronic pad... refuse. That is your last protection in credit card fraud.
  • So what is the problem that they are trying to solve? They wouldn't do this if they didn't think it would save them money, so obviously they think this will enhance profits. The article states that it is "part of an effort to reduce fraud and theft." I wonder how big a problem this is? Will having thumbprints reduce the problem, or will it just change the techniques used by the criminals? How much will this reduce revenue due to people not willing to provide their prints out of privacy concerns?
  • by renehollan ( 138013 ) <rhollan AT clearwire DOT net> on Wednesday November 21, 2001 @02:48PM (#2597165) Homepage Journal
    Well, in Texas, you must provide a left and right thumbprint in order to get a state drivers' license.

    I can understand the desire for companies to know with whom they are doing business, and the ability to find them. It is however, frustrating, that so many different primary "keys" end up being used: SSN, license, prints, etc.

    As much as I hate the notion of a National I.D. Card, the arguments for a universal unique personal key are compelling, so long as you could control what data was accessible via said key. IOW, any credit agency could assign you an ID unique to them (though, in practice, they use an SSN), and track your credit record, but only YOU could control linking your universal ID to that data.

    This would have several advantages:

    1. a unique key per person;

    2. control over data accessable via this key;

    3. pressure on companies to abandon use of less desirable keys, like SSN's;

    4. no need for physical identification, like fingerprints.

    Consider if this universal ID were also the public part of a public key cryptosystem keypair: you could prove identity by decrypting a challenge encrypted with the ID. Data maintained about you could be signed by the originator and encrypted with your private key, so it could only be obtained with your assistance. Spoofing of data (by picking new key pairs for a new identity) would be impossible if the data included your public key (i.e. "alias") as part of what was signed.

    Clearly, this has advantages: you can provided third-party signed information about yourself to those you chose. People can do business with you without knowing your name, or where you live, increasing your potential for annonymity (of course, getting something shipped to you defeats a large part of this). The big disadvantage is that, armed with a public key, third party collection and correlation of data can begin -- the police may not know who #2600 is, but they could damn well track where he goes. However, accidental disclosure of this data would be more difficult to overlook: why would anyone maintain non-encrypted records? They are only needed in plain text for the brief interval during which you encrypt and return them. And, the undesirable collection of such data happens anyway today, with multiple keys being one more thing to correlate.

    Still, the potential for anonymous transactions with identification provided by half a PKS key pair that is one's national ID, not bound to an individual, or address, is desirable.

    • NO. It should be _my_ choice how I accept being identified. If I do not want to give a thimb print then I use a different vendor, if they all demand a thumb print then I either relent or do not rent cars. But it should be my choice. I am sick and tired of the erosion of my liberty by the ever increasing regulation of the state. Do not accept a national id, there is no way to justify that it is necessary. Convenient ofr the mandarins perhaps, but not for the citizens.
  • by satch89450 ( 186046 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2001 @03:27PM (#2597363) Homepage

    The reason that Dollar Rent-A-Car is asking for thumbprints is because they no longer trust customers to take proper care of their cars and to honor their contracts. How many times have you ridden with a person who is driving aggressively who says, "What do I care, it's a rental"? Not to mention rental cars that are driven to Mexico and sold there.

    Trust is a two-way street. I don't know about you, but I am starting to get the idea that the customer is just as likely to be victimized as the vendor. I would be tempted to require exactly the same forms of identification from the clerk helping me that the clerk demands of me. I know why they want a driver's license and credit card: proof that I have passed some state's minimum exam for driving, and proof of payment capability. When they ask for a thumbprint, though, I'd be tempted to whip out my own fingerprint card and request they fill in their full name, current address, and fingerprint. That way, if there is a service problem I can identify the clerk completely. (It could also help to show law enforcement that I am the authorized contract-holder of a rental car by demonstrating that I obtained the contract with a bona-fide agent of the rent-a-car company.)

    When the National ID card is instituted, I'm going to ask to see the card of the clerks. Trust is a two-way street.

    • What's the difference between a 4x4 and a rental car?

      The rental car can go anywhere.
    • Amen to that! I have a feeling a lot of organizations both public and private would have second thoughts about demanding so much information if the customer demanded the same from them. It's a shame that so many people will readily answer any question asked of them by any "official" figure and never question why.

      Anyway, if you haven't seen it before, you might be interested in the Public Servant Questionnaire [] - a document created by people who believed in "asking back".

  • This sounds like a likely candidate for fucked company.
  • what, I have no thumbs !!!
    • I was thinking the same thing, and it occured to me, that they could use a Butt print, as we would assume most customers have a butt to sit in the car with. In fact, they could include butt activated ignition, to prevent you from leaving the engine running if you get out of the car. The only trick is using the Butt activated keyless ignition, where you have to moon the inside passengers to get into the car.
  • Just as there is no copy-protection immune to the prying eyes of a disassembling debugger and a case of jolt, requiring thumb prints will certainly deter the pathetic fools who just steal a car at random, but it won't stop the big time crooks from pulling it off. How hard can it possibly be to have a plastic coating on your fingers with fake fingerprints engraved ? Think embossed saran wrap, glued air-tight to the skin.

    Or do it John Woo style : kill someone and use their fingers instead!
  • Would they rent you a car then, ok so it's prob difficult to drive with no thumbs but still...
  • The bit I don't like the sound of is (after discussion of another company's policy)

    At Dollar, the rental agreement forms -- and thumbprints -- are stored at the company's corporate headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for seven years before they are trashed.
    I wouldn't have any particular problem with giving a thumbprint provided it's retained only as long as is reasonable to cover theft of the vehicle and fraudulent use of credit card or other identity.

    But seven years seems an awful long time to keep records of this sort. One hopes the records repository and the forwarding of the records are all secure....

    I also wonder how long the company expects to keep a competitive advantage by doing this - one assumes that it will discourage at least some of the criminal fraternity from going there as a first choice, but if it works that well, other companies may well take it up.


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