back to article Wanted: Gordon Brown's fingerprints, £1,000 reward

A £1,000 reward has been posted for the fingerprints of Prime Minster Gordon Brown and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, both of whom, claim perpetrators No2ID and Privacy International, are "wanted identity felons". In a campaign Wanted Poster the campaign groups claim that their plan to "steal the fingerprints of the entire British …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Really. this is possibly the most peotic political protest I have ever seen. Really hope it works.

  2. brimful
    Thumb Up

    I wonder

    if it is indeed lawful to do this? I know the american tv shows get around the finger print issue of needing a warrant by just getting the suspect to touch something "public" like a glass or door knob or something else. Anyone care to comment on how UK law treats this?

    Well done for coming up with the scheme to get these fingerprints. Infact I think the scheme should be rolled out to the entire government and let "US" - the common people who the government works for - police them for a change.

    Thumbs up - because I would really like Smith's and Brown's thumb prints.

  3. Wayland Sothcott

    Hopefully illegal

    If it is illegal to copy someones finger prints without permission then that would mean we don't have to give our fingerprints to National ID.

  4. amanfromMars Silver badge

    All men are equal but some have more equality that others?

    Seems like a perfectly rational idea which could/should be extended to protect all who would wish to be paid from the Public Purse, in jobs which the People have provided for them. Poetic Justice in Deed, indeed.

    I take it, John Lettice, that that has you crossed of the No10 XXXXHamas Party list.

    Oh dear, what a shame. ;-) I'm sure you must be distraught.

  5. Tim

    Rapid prototyping

    If it isn't already possible (and I think it is) it won't be long before we can scan/photograph a finger/thumb-print off a beer glass and have a 3d printer print out a polymer reconstruction of the finger/thumb.

    This technology is only going to get cheaper.

  6. Neil Croft
    Dead Vulture

    biometric revocation?

    Is it only me or does the thought of having my fingers cut off and my eyes gouged out not alarm anyone else?

  7. resigned2myfate

    Gordon and the magic torch...

    Is this another reason why old gordy wouldn't touch that olympic torch yesterday?

  8. M A Walters

    @Rapid prototyping

    It's been there for a while now. Not instant, but not bad. All you need is some kind of a base and a polymer-based ribbon printer.

  9. Steph
    Thumb Down

    Illegal for whom?

    @Wayland: It's all good and proper to think about making the copying of fingerprints illegal... but do you honestly believe the government wouldn't have an exclusion for its own uses?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    @ Neil Croft

    'Is it only me or does the thought of having my fingers cut off and my eyes gouged out not alarm anyone else?'

    I've never met you Neil, so no, it doesn't particularly bother me. BTW, What sort of circles do you mix in where this might actually happen to you? Your'e not a comprehensive school teacher are you?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    What about their other biometrics?

    Similarly, if we could get a copy of their facial biometric we could demonstrate how we could use the data to fool facial biometric matching systems (such as humans) into thinking either Brown or Smith were present. Or maybe their signature, if we could get a copy of their signature we could pretend to sign cheques, documents etc and fool signature checking systems (such as humans) into thinking they were genuine!


    Revocation isn't really the issue with biometrics - it's determining to a reasonable level of probability that the actual source of the biometric data is present when the biometric sample is recorded (using a camera, sensor etc). For example, when you present a photo ID to a person, that person not only checks whether you match the ID but implicitly that you're not wearing a mask, have a photo stuck over your face, and are not a corpse being held up by someone else*. If someone successfully underwent plastic surgery to look like you you would be unlikely to modify your face to revoke the biometric! The key is to develop automated systems that cannot be fooled by masks, photos etc, and this applies to other biometrics such as fingerprints and irises. Unfortunately most fingerprint sensors do not have this capability and rely on human supervision for such checks (e.g. inspecting someone's fingers before putting them on a scanner) - though there are some scanners that do - such as multispectral scanners.

    Also, if your biometric is associated with a second factor - and can only be used in conjunction with that second factor (except perhaps for low value transactions) then you can always revoke that factor - just as you would in the past if someone stole your credit card and successfully forged your signature.

    In my view if systems are securely implemented and the application of biometric technology done in a way that considers the risks of "spoofing" and includes appropriate countermeasures, there's little to worry about. On the other hand, I guess that's a lot to worry about :). What bothers me is how emotional people are when it comes to their fingerprints being "captured" compared with other biometrics such as face and signature. No doubt it's from long association with law enforcement.

    *interestingly research has shown that humans comparing two faces they don't know to determine whether they are the same person perform less well than computer face matching algorithms.

  12. Ian Rogers
    Thumb Up

    @Neil Croft

    'Is it only me or does the thought of having my fingers cut off and my eyes gouged out not alarm anyone else?'

    You don't have to gouge your eyes out etc., just revoke each of them from the allowed list of identification - which is the *real* problem of biometric ID; you can only revoke it 10 times (12 with eyes, 22 with toes too) and then you're stuffed with no access to identification.

    Getting the thumb-prints of Smith and Brown would be a good start, but the getting the full set would drive the point home.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Re: What about their other biometrics?

    >> In my view if systems are securely implemented and the application of biometric

    >> technology done in a way that considers the risks of "spoofing" and includes

    >> appropriate countermeasures, there's little to worry about

    nothing to worry about except maybe for data/application errors – e.g. your data being associated with a serial killer.

    Hands up who can guarantee that the database entries will be 100% accurate on a db of several million records of this type?

    Now keep it is you can guarantee that the application will return the right data in all circumstances?

    Finally keep it up if you considered it can't be hacked?

    So how many in the software game even put the hands up

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shame on you for baiting the afflicted

    The well scrubbed (as per El Reg last week) but retiring (as in doesn't like to go out at night, rather than in leaving politics) Home Secretary is already too nervous for her own good and the good of the country. You are only making things worse.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Copyright your fingerprints

    Copyright your fingerprint. It should be unique to you and it does belong to you. You can then sue for unauthorised duplication and reproduction of your copyrighted image.

  17. Andy

    @Rapid prototyping, etc.

    Already been done with Jelly Babies, apparently.

  18. Doug

    Fingerprint samples?

    I have some brown envelopes with lots of MPs fingerprints on them. Any good?

    Also, I can't wait til they ask for a DNA sample to prove who you are. I'm up for that anytime :)

    There you are at the bank at lunch break, you get to the cashier and then you have to make a withdrawal for your withdrawal. I suppose they could ask for blood....but the bastards already have all of mine....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Spot on

    Nice one NO2ID....same should be done for many other politicians and other private advocates of this ridiculous s*it they are trying so desperately hard to push on the majority. Does anyone out there have a hard copy of the CCC mag in question? If so please drop to cheers ;)

    Retinal Scans and DNA samples next please, all of your biometrics will belong to the people.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Privacy vandels

    This is seriously wrong and hopefully illegal, if not then hopefully some good will come out of this `event`.

    Bottom line I deem this more a attack upon the UK goverment and UK security as a whole than I do making a point. On that note if I had said fingerprints all the money in the world no matter how impacting upon my life wouldn't make me change my mind on this at all. No, no and no. But hey I'm British so go figure.

    On a technical note - there are ways to obtain peoples fingerprints from distance, but we all dont have super HD camera's with zoom lenses and respective processing software now do we!

    But the whole area of using fingerprints as security is akin to using a password written across your forehead - so were security realy counts in biometrics. Why use ifngerprints. A human based biometric system is way more secure in combination with a fixed based password (one time better though) system.


    idiot's - just say no.

  21. Jimmy


    Everywhere these two politicians go they are surrounded by a phalanx of security people and special protection officers to ensure that that they are not inconvenienced by the attentions of a grateful electorate strewing carpets of rose petals in their path. It's tough at the top and that is why we are only too pleased to supplement their already generous salaries with expense accounts that cover job-related costs such as TV licences, mortgage payments, food, taxis and hi-fi systems. Hey, just kidding, guys.

    The problem for NO2ID is that having unleashed the bounty hunters they must now deliver the goods, otherwise B&S will spin their usual load of hypocritical BS about the integrity of government database systems and 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear'.

    The Home Secretary is on record as saying that she is afraid to walk the streets of London after dark. Perhaps the lady could wrap herself in one of those frightfully secure distributed databases that she ignorantly prescribes for the rest of us. Come to think of it, Jacqui & Gordon could pre-empt this whole mess by publishing their fingerprints on a public website. That would teach those bolshie bastards over at NO2ID a thing or two.

    B&S = BS

  22. Eponymous Cowherd

    I get this image....

    of Smith & Brown wearing gloves on all of their public engagements.

    Or, possibly, having a squad of lackeys in front of them to open doors, etc, and a further squad of lackeys following them and polishing everything they *do* touch.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @AC - Why Fingerprints/DNA are more emotive than Face/Signature

    There is an obvious reason for Fingerprints and DNA biometrics to be more emotive than facial and signature based biometrics. And you almost caught that at the end of your post in mentioning the connection with law enforcement. The problem with both fingerprint and DNA evidence is that they are used for law enforcement. Take the example of the fake fingerprint of the German Interior Minister from last week. Now that is available, how hard would it be for a criminal to plant fake fingerprints at a crime scene. 10 years ago that was unlikely to be a problem if you were a law abiding citizen, since in the absence of a conviction your fingerprints and DNA would never be on a database. Now, the Police can arrest you on a whim and get your fingerprints and DNA on a database, increasing the chance for criminals to get away with biometric evidence planting. If the Government had a full database of all citizens, it would be even easier. As a poster on another article said, what's stopping a criminal from collecting a load of used fag buts from outside a pub and throwing them away at scenes of crimes? Similarly, when the first big theft of data from the government database occurs, what's stopping people making casts of fingerprints and leaving them at crime scenes?

    Essentially, a population wide biometric database, especially one that is open enough to allow it to be used for authentication for a wide variety of services (ie currently proposed ID cards), has an obvious law enforcement risk. Firstly, there would be a number of miscarriages of justice as incorrect/planted biometric evidence is used to gain convictions in lots of cases. Then as the miscarriages come to light, suddenly fingerprints and DNA become a whole lot less useful in law enforcement than they were before the scheme.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Correct me if I missunderstand....

    someone will anyway.

    The value of all biometric data is that there is only a 1:n chance of a duplicate appearing.

    The more complex the data the higher that chance and theoretically the safer the identification is with the chances tending to infinity for a duplicate occuring.

    But as everyone who buys a lottery ticket knows, no matter how bad the chances are winning its always worth a punt as your numbers might come up.

    Theoretically, as I understand how chance and odds work, there may also be someone with your fingerprints or identical DNA walking about somewhere on the planet.

    Be a shame if they were a serial killer, who would believe you in court.

  25. Jimmy

    @ I get this image....

    "Or, possibly, having a squad of lackeys in front of them to open doors, etc, and a further squad of lackeys following them and polishing everything they *do* touch."

    Absolutely. Didn't previous monarchs have a royal food taster in the form of a disposable serf whose sole function in the palace was to sample the king's corn-flakes and do his patriotic duty if they were laced with arsenic.

    Now that we are living in a capitalist democracy we are all still serfs and still expected to consume and die if necessary to prop up the economy.

    Still, Royal Fingerprint Wiper does have a nice ring about it.

    Suits you, Gordon.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey, I suggested that on here week ago !,lol

    Yep theyve taken my great idea and run with it. Well ok anyone could have thought of it, but I think Tony Blair should be a target also. Just ask for his autograph, or pay him a £1m to speak at a non existent function.

  27. Law
    Paris Hilton


    Is it possible to copyright our own fingerprints - so that if somebody like, for example, the government tries to obtain them without your expressed permission you can sue them??

    I'm not saying copyright all fingerprints, just your individually unique ones!! :)

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Easy peasy

    Should be easy to get gordon's fingerprints. They're alll over my payslip for a start!

  29. James
    Thumb Up


    as far as I read it copyright belongs to the creator of the work in question. You didn't create your fingerprints but perhaps there's a good case for arguing that your mother did !!

    Of course, a more general argument could be for the Creator. Hence government would need to obtain permission from whatever/whoever you believed to be the creator of your fingerprints.

  30. Connor Garvey
    Black Helicopters

    Big deal?

    You already give your name, address, personal information, signature and a photograph of your face. What's the big fucking deal?

  31. Jamie

    I wonder???

    I wonder, then I realize why it is that the gov't scares me more than any street thug.

  32. yeah, right.


    Of course they'll have permission! 'ere guv, you can either give us your fingerprints, or you can spend the next 40 years in jail as an alleged terrorist, and we don't need to go to court for that one. So, do we have your permission to take your fingerprints?

  33. RW

    @ Paul Gray

    "a [sic] attack upon the UK goverment [sic] and UK security as a whole"

    Minor problem: it isn't at all clear that biometric ID works. Many knowledgeable, thoughtful people have pointed out defects in the scheme. Meanwhile, only simpletons like NuLabour fall for the sales spiel of the companies who want to suck at the public titty while building this useless, privacy-destroying, ineffective system. NuLabour (and their ilk) need to stop looking for magic and/or silver bullets for society's woes.

    Moreover, even supposing that biometric ID "works", it's highly doubtful that it enhances security in any useful way. Don't forget that the airplane hijackers of 9/11 were all in the US legally, and all had valid ID.

    The whole point of this amusing scheme is to make the unworkability of biometric ID so obvious that even the dimwitted Mr. Brown will have to back away from it.

  34. Andrew Richards


    Big deal? Possibly because it might get a bit "clerical" and there might be "errors".

    As an example - Not a big deal if you're not in the 0.03%, then.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "I wonder if I can obtain a copyright on my fingerprints, then charge any agency a "license" fee when they want to use them for ID?

    I feel we should in-undate the Patent Office now. 60m people copyrighting their prints should keep them busy for a while!"

    To copyright your fingerprints, you would need to have a copy of them submitted to the Patent Office. If everyone did this, then they would by default have a database that I'm sure the Govenment would have access to. In fact you would also be doing the governments work for them.

  36. Brian Drury

    Some Further Information...

    The reliability of biometrics does indeed leave much to be desired.

    Paragraph 170 of the Home Affairs Select Committee Report on ID cards:

    states that: “The National Physical Laboratory's feasibility study noted that in one-to-one checks good fingerprint systems were able to achieve a false match rate of 1 in 100,000”.

    A previous contributor asked “ You already give your name, address, personal information, signature and a photograph of your face. What's the big f*****g deal?”.

    On 20th Feb 2007, Blair publicly stated W.R.T. fingerprints on the National Identity Register (NIR):

    "They will be able, for example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000 unsolved crimes against the information held on the register." See:

    With a projected 60 Million people on the NIR and with a false match rate of 1 in 100,000, we can expect about 600 incorrect matches for each crime scene fingerprint.

    At present, I can reasonably expect never to become a crime suspect. If I am forced to hand over my fingerprints to the NIR, that will, of course, no longer be the case.

    One last thing – W.R.T. the copyrighting of your biometrics. It appears, unfortunately, that it is not possible. For the reasoning behind this, you may like to read the following post on the NO2ID website:

  37. Dave Bell

    People do get confused.

    And one element of confusion is just what a fingerprint is.

    Current biometrics are not so very different from the indexing systems which the police have used ever since they started to use fingerprints. Different people can have distinguishable fingerprints which are indexed as the same. Then you have to compare fingerprints.

    This works well for forensic investigation.

    Whether we call it hashing or indexing, a biometric ID is rather like a PIN. It doesn't have to be unique. But it must be consistent.

    What do the people pushing the idea think they're getting?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Another Reward For Fingerprints

    I will pay another £1,000 for anyone who can give me fingerprints which are clenched around Brown's throat. That guy is personally responsible for stealing the pension pot for millions of people, a crime which will run for several decades. Allegedly. Probably. Maybe.

  39. heystoopid

    The problem is

    The problem is along with the errors , we have a small problem with a large number of people in residence in prison innocent of the crimes they have alleged to have committed from small crimes all the way up to capital offences due in part to excessive and inherent racism and basic corruption within the Police Forces themselves using a process called the "Stitch !" or willingness to commit absolute perjury and tell deliberate lies under oath !

    This fact has been well documented in many countries often ! Allied to the fact that even when cornered many perpetrators within the force that commit these criminal acts and follies of injustice are usually unpunished both in court and by fellow colleagues within the force who field numerous fallacious excuses to evade the real issue , to remain free to commit further similar perjury crimes ! At times even senior commanders tell deliberate lies in public , as a recent premeditated murder of an innocent man at a tube station by serving Police Officers highlighted ! Only in very rare cases are these criminal thugs in the blue uniform actually punished for their crimes or sacked from their jobs as punishment .

    This in turn does not give one much confidence in any system the where political wankers who told many lies about the current war on terrorism with alleged weapons of mass deception , create these "Stalin Police State Laws!"

    Proceed with this nonsense at full speed ahead !

  40. Jonathan McColl

    Fingerprint evidence

    The Shirley McKie case that made large headlines in Scotland seems rather ignored or forgotten elsewhere.

    [etc, etc, etc]

    At least we know that we are safe with our British law enforcement system, can't say the same about Johnny Foreigner's. Or perhaps our government-after-next.

  41. Lukin Brewer

    I would concentrate on Jaqui Smith.

    Gordon Brown has been a world leader for months, and will probably be able to transform into a lizard like all the rest. So he will probably be using his scale prints for all important biometric ID needs by now.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    @ Brian Drury

    "With a projected 60 Million people on the NIR and with a false match rate of 1 in 100,000, we can expect about 600 incorrect matches for each crime scene fingerprint."

    Or to put it into more personal terms, *YOUR* fingerprint will match (on average) 9 unsolved crimes. If you are lucky, they might not be too serious.

  43. Ascylto


    There should be a reward for samples of their urine.

    After all, with this ID nonsense, they're taking the piss out of us all the time!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fingerprints are not unique

    It is now understood that fingerprints are not necessarily unique, as this story eloquently demonstrates.

    Brandon Mayfield, a lawyer from Portland, Oregon, was identified by the FBI as a "100% match" for a set of fingerprints taken by the Spanish police from a bag containing detonators. Having reached this incorrect conclusion, the FBI started to pull in other facts, such as Mayfield's religion (he is a Muslim), to build a case against him. Unfortunately for them, dozens of witnesses could testify that he had been living his normal life on the West coast of the USA at the time the fingerprints had been created in far-off Madrid. Otherwise, he might well be in detention still.

    Btw, someone is sure to notice that the fingerprints were considered "substandard". But the important thing is that didn't stop the FBI calling them a "100% identification".

    In other news, bullet identification, which the FBI has been bragging about for decades, has turned out to be fraudulent too.

  45. Simon.W
    Thumb Up

    A business proposition

    I’m thinking of calling it Burke & Hare, Biometric and DNA recovery agents to the nefarious.

    Anyone who doesn’t mind rummaging around the odd bin or two collecting various documents, old shoes, hairbrushes, spray cans and the like are more than welcome to join — probably a good sideline for those in the waste management industries.

    The idea is to create off the shelve packs of virtual people catering to the infamous and nefarious no-good doers ranging from the cheapest @ £4.99 containing just a few strands of hair and perhaps a toe nail clipping to the full blown (getting away with it guaranteed, for quite a long time) packs for around £149.99, containing refurbished fingerprint stamps with associated DNA, various pieces of associated documentation, assorted swatches from torn clothing and used tissues.

    With the roll out of the biometric database I’m sure the “re-implication” business is going to take off.

  46. Lewin Chan

    Renting out my biometric data

    Personally, I'm quite happy for the government to have my biometric data on record providing there is some suitable recompense for keeping that data. I suggest something in the region of 50GBP per month per instance. For sure, it being on two separate database is two separate instances.

    Of course this depends on the whole "biometric data is my property" argument. But then if they compel me to submit my biometric data (rather than following me around for a couple of weeks getting my data off pint-glasses), I'd consider it like somewhat like a in-voluntary sperm bank.

    Anyway it's not about whether they have your biometric data or not, it's about the implementation of the system that contains your biometric data. It's not like the government have covered themselves in glory on that front.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do you prove who you are?

    Say you're a known figure with a common name, say like Gordon Brown, with a bunch of data spread over the internet and public sources, where anyone can find out your date of birth, your mother's maiden name, address(es) where you live, maybe even your favourite place or favourite band from interviews you've given, and then it wouldn't be so hard for someone to get a copy of your birth certificate and maybe apply for a credit card in your name, or there are probably shops or restaurants out there who can get your credit card or bank account number.

    So it must be really really difficult to prove that you're THE Gordon Brown and not some impersonator. And that you really didn't order all the blow-up dolls, or the size 44 stocking and suspender set. Or the build it yourself grenade launcher.

    In an on-line world where everything can be copied and cloned, how do you prove you are who you say you are and that your identity hasn't been hijacked?

  48. Paul

    Got them!

    I've got his finger prints. Let look a bit like mine but they are his honest!

    or to put it another way how would someone who claimed to have the fingerprints be able to prove they were el gordo's?

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