Who Are You?

I was fingerprinted this morning.

No, you’re not going to see me on the national news, being led away in handcuffs from the scene of some horrible pre-caffeinated rage crime. Believe it or not, I had to be printed for my job.

This statement is just going to fuel those pesky secret agent rumors. I know it.

Truth of the matter is, while what I do does require a bit of clearance from the agency to which I am detailed, I really don’t do anything that would demand this level of security clearance. However, the federal government, being the machine of brilliance and preparedness that it is (and not the least bit hyperbolic in its actions whatsoever), has decided that all people affiliated with any aspect of the federal government will inevitably have to go through this security process.

Which is how I ended up being fingerprinted while my two pieces of government-issued photo identification were scanned and I was photographed. And then everything was uploaded into a government database to be processed to confirm that I am who I say I am, and that I have not committed any sort of crime that would prevent me from receiving final clearance.

After the initial disappointment I felt when I realized that: A) I was actually going to be fingerprinted (there was some confusion about this fact from my sponsor); and B) the fingerprinting wasn’t going to be done by Sara Sidle, I settled into a state of conflicted resignation. The tech-geek side of me was fascinated by the tool they used to capture my fingerprints. Gone are the days of messy ink stains and paper ten-cards. It’s all digital, denizens. You know those machines we see those TV CSIs using? The ones that always make us roll our eyes and tsk in disbelief?

They’re real.

The security agent pulled out this device that was no bigger than a box of teabags and proceeded to print my fingers, just like you see them doing it on TV. Each finger, rolled across a plexiglass slide. Each print immediately captured in a digital image on his screen, saved to the appropriate designated box. Took fewer than 5 minutes.

While the tech-geek was mesmerized by all this, the conspiracy side of me was raging over the fact that the digital capturing of my fingerprints has somehow stolen that much more of my privacy. Kind of like how those isolated tribes felt that pieces of their souls were stolen away every time one of those pesky National Geographic excursions came through to photograph them.

If you hadn’t noticed this about me, I’m a bit of a private wolf. I like keeping as much personal information as I can…well, personal. I know it makes me seem paranoid (which I admittedly am), but I like the false belief that I have some shred of control over my identity. Up until this morning, one of the things over which I thought I would always have control was my fingerprints not being in any database.

Now, like those sad little tribes and their ever-shrinking souls, another little piece of my privacy has been hacked away. And they couldn’t even send Sara Sidle to do the hacking.