Rather Giggle Worthy

So, these fingerprint plans at Heathrow.

Plans to fingerprint millions of passengers a year at Heathrow\’s new fifth terminal have been put on hold hours before it opens for business tomorrow.

BAA, the airport operator, took the decision after being warned by the Government\’s Information Commissioner that the move could breach the Data Protection Act.

So, this could be illegal than, yes? But who was insisting that they used the system?

The decision to fingerprint all domestic passengers at the terminal was triggered by the demands for heightened security by the Home Office.

Really? Our valiant Home Office insisting that a company do something illegal?

Even the Home Office, which had put pressure on BAA to tighten security, distanced itself from the move.

This was despite officials previously demanding some form of biometric tests in addition to photographs – and having approved the fingerprint scheme during months of negotiations.

Gosh, it makes you wonder whether all those Rolls Royce minds actually know arses from elbows, doesn\’t it?

So, will they have to compensate BAA for the costs their ignorance of the law has caused?

4 thoughts on “Rather Giggle Worthy”

  1. I’d be reluctant to take the Torygraph’s unsourced claim that the Home Office demanded the fingerprint system too seriously.

    It seems from pretty much every source I’ve seen that BAA chose it in preference to photos (which are allowed in Mancs and Glasgow) because it was easier to administer.

    The fact that the HO approved it despite not meeting DP laws is embarrassing for them, but puts the fault squarely at BAA’s door for not checking themselves (the conversation doubtless went “does this meet immigration law requirements?” “yes”, rather than “does this break any laws at all?” “no”)

  2. “I’d be reluctant to take the Torygraph’s unsourced claim that the Home Office demanded the fingerprint system too seriously.”

    I second that.

    If Home Office denials are to be believed then they merely asked for security to prevent immigration being by-passed, and it was BAA that went all biometric-magic-pixie-dust on T5.

    Of course, BAA and the Home Office are both serial liars anyway, and finding out one of them lied this time hardly changes things.

  3. The original photo-based ID system was installed at Gatwick. It was a Customs requirement necessitated when BAA wanted domestic and international passengers to share the airside departure lounge (with all those duty free shops). It worked well, and it was also pretty cheap, when compared to a fingerprint system.

    The fingerprint system has all the hallmarks of a solution looking for a problem – a Home Office speciality it seems. I don’t see how immigration can be bypassed – the UK isn’t part of the Schengen Agreement, so all incoming international passengers must go through immigration before joining a domestic flight. Going the other way, the UK doesn’t check outgoing passengers’ passports, so why would anyone want to swap boarding passes to evade a non-existent check?

    However, the Customs requirement to check that domestic passengers don’t avail themselves of bargain (?) fags ‘n booze still exists, so I suspect that the Home Office told BAA that the fingerprint system was an enhancement over the photo system, and was going to be required in the future anyway, as part of the ongoing War On Terror.

  4. “Going the other way, the UK doesn’t check outgoing passengers’ passports”

    Outsourced to airline staff at the gates. In theory, you’ll always get a photo ID check by the hungover and bored 20-somethings trying to deal with the rush of 250 passengers getting on the plane to meet turnaround targets.

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