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Next month on, fingerprinting at 3 airports

world Updated: Mar 09, 2008 00:43 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times
Next month on

Next month on mandatory fingerprinting will be introduced at three airports in the UK — Gatwick, Manchester and Heathrow’s Terminals 1 and 5.

Officials had begun talks with the aviation industry within months of the alleged plot to blow up Transatlantic Airlines in August 2006.

Once introduced, about four million domestic passengers expected to pass annually through Terminal 5, due to open on March 27, will have four fingerprints taken, and photographed on check in.

To ensure the passenger boarding the aircraft is the same person, the fingerprinting process will be repeated just prior to boarding and photographs matched.

Civil liberties campaigners have raised concerns about the possibility of security agencies trying to access personal data, adding that fingerprinting “will make innocent people feel like criminals.”

Dr Gus Hosein, of the London School of Economics, an expert on the impact on technology on civil liberties said: “There is no other country in the world that requires passengers travelling on internal flights to be fingerprinted. The BAA says the fingerprint data will be destroyed, but the records travellers within the country will not be.”

But the BAA office said the scheme was decided after consultation with the Home Office. It also clarified that the biometric information would be destroyed after 24 hours and would not be passed on to the police.

Without the biometric checks, the company says, potential criminals and illegal immigrants arriving on international flights could bypass border controls by swapping boarding passes with a domestic passenger.

International passengers will not be fingerprinted, as they must show a passport when they check in and before they board their flight.