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January 27, 2014

Please don’t chop off my fingers

The story of my digital digits.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

So, today I finally did it. You may remember that last year I was talking about a gym I’ve joined near my office. Well, I’ve pretty much been talking about it every day since, as in "I really am going to go to the gym tomorrow so complete my application process."

I really did join the gym last year. All I had left to do was visit the gym to have my fingerprint scanned, as they use fingerprints instead of membership cards as ID. After all, there’s less chance of you losing your finger than a membership card.

But, inevitably, it raises some security issues. There will be people who worry about a company having a scan of their fingerprint stored away somewhere. And what could happen if this data fell into the wrong hands? The gym has assured me that it is safe and would be quite useless to anyone who did somehow get their hands on it.

But what would happen if someone steals my finger? Well, probably not much actually.

We’ve probably all seen films and TV shows in which characters breach high security buildings by chopping off someone’s finger, pressing it onto a biometrics scanner and, hey presto, the door opens.

Is this gruesome science fiction or gruesome science fact? It’s an intriguing thought, so I’ve had a chat with some medical experts, as well as some biometrics experts. I just had to know the truth.

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As it happens, when you sever someone’s finger (and I have not tried this, by the way, and certainly don’t encourage you to!) it instantly begins to degrade due to loss of blood circulation. Therefore, it would be pretty much useless as a biometrics access tool. It may, however, prove useful as a nose picking device.

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