With fears about the spread of the Ebola virus in the headlines, I feel that it’s important to point out that both the Japanese and U.S. governments have installed an excellent infection-spreading system at their borders.

I refer to the fingerprinting devices used on foreign visitors, residents and users of the automated gates. Those in the United States — where all 10 fingers are required and the glass is always dirty — are even more dangerous than those in Japan.

Another issue with regard to fingerprinting is that the International Olympic Committee, in selecting Tokyo for the 2020 games, has guaranteed that this will be the first Olympics where every athlete and visitor coming to the games will be treated like a criminal and have their fingerprints added to a Japanese (and probably FBI) database, a database for which no privacy policy, if one exists, has been made public.

I wrote to the IOC about this, not that it helped. I expect the members of the evaluating committee were wafted through immigration under the exception for government guests, so they were not subjected to the indignity.

If governments continue to insist on such security theater, they should verify identities in a way that protects freedom, privacy and health. That means retinal scans. Why? Because, unlike fingerprints, you don’t leave them behind everywhere you go; unlike faces, they can’t be read from a distance and used to identify you in crowds. And since retinal scans are nontouch, they won’t spread diseases.

The current databases must be destroyed, if we are to regain our respect, privacy and freedom.

mark callow

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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