Sunday, March 09, 2008

Heathrow airport to take fingerprints

Wow, just when you thought Ole Blighty could not get more charming.

"Millions of British airline passengers face mandatory fingerprinting before being allowed to board flights when Heathrow’s Terminal 5 opens later this month."
- from The Telegraph

Quote:
Dr Gus Hosein, of the London School of Economics, an expert on the impact on technology on civil liberties, is one of the scheme’s strongest critics.
He said: "There is no other country in the world that requires passengers travelling on internal flights to be fingerprinted. BAA says the fingerprint data will be destroyed, but the records of who has travelled within the country will not be, and it will provide a rich source of data for the police and intelligence agencies.
"I grew up in a society where you only fingerprinted people if you suspected them of being criminals. By doing this they will make innocent people feel like criminals.

Just my feelings. This is really offensive.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Sunday, March 09, 2008   15 comments links to this post

15 Comments:

At 9 Mar 2008, 13:17:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm happy I don't fly. I think anal probing should be mandatory for anyone who flies, actually.

 
At 9 Mar 2008, 15:00:00, Anonymous ttl said...

If only people would stop putting up with this crap it would go away. Imagine if the new terminal opened and not a single customer turned up, ever?

Doesn't happen. They know people will put up with anything and everything if they just introduce it gradually.

There's no point in just having this in one terminal in one airport so pretty soon it will be everywhere. That will be it regarding U.K. for me.

 
At 9 Mar 2008, 15:28:00, Blogger eolake said...

I hear ya.

 
At 9 Mar 2008, 16:29:00, Anonymous Paul said...

I totally agree with ttl. The problem with this country is that people are too apathetic these days. I remember a time when people would take to the streets to complain about things which are trivial compared to today's loss of human rights and liberty.

I can't see how this scheme will work anyway because if the government is not (currently) having a national ID database then Heathrow have nothing to compare their data with, so what's the point of testing it in the first place. All they can do is test self-verification with a biometric passport (itself optional), and hackers have already demonstrated how easy it is to fake biometric passports.

As usual, in ignorant I.I. illiterate government trying to impose more police state tactics without any care as to inconveniencing innocent people.

 
At 9 Mar 2008, 16:31:00, Anonymous Paul said...

Ooops. That last para. should read "an ignorant I.T."...

 
At 9 Mar 2008, 18:30:00, Blogger Final Identity said...

So many issues.

First, you can't really say that access to internal flight service is somehow ensconced in your "democratic rights." Flying isn't like eating or sleeping under decent shelter. It's a frill, not a mandatory. So, in that sense, the government is limiting something that is already limitable, right?

Second, there's this whole thing about fear of the government. If they're a noble and august institution, why would one resist giving up any personal information? The ONLY person who should hesitate to allow himself to be fingerprinted, would be the one who has something to hide. And of course, the government itself is always going to make their rules about what the government can and can't do, on the basis of the premise that the government is a fine and august institution. So there's this circular thing going on, by which the creators of a threat to certain liberties, do so under the assumption that they're not a threat to certain liberties.

And then there's the question of market dynamics. Someone suggested people should just back off and not ever be customers of fingerprinting. Well, do they really have the choice? Aren't they going to be told by boss or someone else, you have to fly to Cardiff tomorrow, go get fingerprinted. It's not worth quitting a job over, is it?

Then there's the question of whether they aren't already fingerprinting us in the first place. I think the government agencies are generally rather invasive already. I bet someone somewhere has my fingerprints and is just lying about the fact that they don't.

And then there's the question of destroying the data. They SAY they'll throw it away and not use it, but can they really PROVE that they no longer have it?

And then there's the question of the ineptitude of airport security personnel. I've spoken here on the blog about a friend of mine who has a steel bar surgically implanted in his thigh because of a vehicle accident. Always the guys at the check-point tell him he'll have to step aside and "take it out so I can examine it." When he explains that he can't, they tackle him. Wham! To the ground! Geniuses. This is largely because they're under-educated -- a security checkpoint job is boring, repetitive, and has to do with dealing with the public and with convolute regulations ... the sort of position most educated people would hope to be free to reject, in favor of something more fulfilling. So, we get these geniuses working these important jobs instead.

And then there's the question of all the other technologies out there. The facial recognition software things, for instance, which they use to control crowds and eliminate "known hooligans" at football matches. Soon enough they won't NEED to fingerprint, they'll just face-print by remote camera as you walk by.

But isn't all of this SUPPOSED to make us safer and happier and better able to go about our usual day?

The United States has a long-standing tradition of distrusting the government in all things. This is in some ways the great strength of our democracy, but in some ways a great weakness. Advantages and disadvantages. I recall moving to Canada and being stunned, within my first week or two there, of hearing people insist "there ought to be a law requiring ...." just about anything. We don't say that in the US. We say, "there ought to be fewer regulations about ..." just about everything. (I mean this as a generalization, of course; on certain specific issues, certain specific individuals might differ. But as a whole, Canada preferred over-regulating while the USA preferred under-regulating.) So I'm interested to follow the potential discussion about over-regulation steps being taken in the UK. We'll see which side of the divide they fall on.

What's Ole Blighty?

 
At 9 Mar 2008, 19:00:00, Blogger eolake said...

Old Blighty is WWII slang for Britain.

... Your friend gets *tackled*? Surely that can't have happened more than once, that's the most idiotic thing I've heard of.

 
At 9 Mar 2008, 20:04:00, Blogger Alex said...

I remember my parents saying how they would need the new "biometric" passports. The fingerprint information, according to the UK press of a couple of years ago, was mandated by US immigration, and so fingerint info was to be embedded in the passport, same way as the photo is.

Strange how Little Blighty is getting a bashing for stronger airport security when the US has had photo ID for decades. CA issue a non-driver drivers license so citizens have a photo ID. Pre 9/11 I always felt safer flying from the UK. There just seemed to be stronger checks, more evident security, more questions asked. Flying from the US was more like getting on a train.

There was an interesting incident recounted by Ray Bradbury about walking without a license. I can't remember if it was in Playboy alongside a short story, or if it is in the front of the 40th/50th anniversary edn of Farenheit 451.

 
At 9 Mar 2008, 20:26:00, Blogger Bert said...

Really wish we could post images. Anyway, this one sums it up.

 
At 9 Mar 2008, 20:34:00, Blogger Bert said...

Oops indeed. I wanted to give proper credit to the author of the illustration, Clay Bennet. You've gotta love his sharp, caustic vision.

 
At 10 Mar 2008, 00:33:00, Anonymous Hangar said...

FI: "Flying isn't like eating or sleeping under decent shelter. It's a frill, not a mandatory. So, in that sense, the government is limiting something that is already limitable, right?"

Where do you draw the line? Is going by train, bus, car, bicycle, walking in a public place already limitable?

"Someone suggested people should just back off and not ever be customers of fingerprinting. Well, do they really have the choice?"

Make up your mind, is it mandatory or not?

 
At 10 Mar 2008, 17:01:00, Blogger Final Identity said...

Hangar: I don't advocate for any of the positions which I named as "issues." The fact that I raised two of them, doesn't mean I haven't "made up my mind." I'm sorry this is complicated for you. Perhaps I should have listed the issues as, "Things which some people might or might not say that would indicate that they were thinking about complicated problems and coming up with a variety of solutions from a variety of viewpoints." That might have helped you along a bit. But I thought my diction, "And then there's the question of ..." made that idea amply clear.

 
At 10 Mar 2008, 19:15:00, Blogger Joe Dick said...

I recall moving to Canada and being stunned, within my first week or two there, of hearing people insist "there ought to be a law requiring ...." just about anything. We don't say that in the US. We say, "there ought to be fewer regulations about ..." just about everything.

It's a different way of thinking, that's for sure. It seems to work. Some of their ideas are pretty wrong-headed, though, like gun control. I don't own and don't want to own any guns, but that idea is pretty squirrelly.

 
At 10 Mar 2008, 19:16:00, Blogger Joe Dick said...

Have you guys ever seen the movie Gattaca? Maybe they should scan DNA. If they have that capability. (No, I'm not serious.)

 
At 10 Mar 2008, 20:24:00, Anonymous Epona said...

Joe Dick,
I know you say you aren't serious, but I have to say, it is a reality to some of us. My DNA is on file (as well as fingerprints) just because I am in the military. Everybody in the U.S. military gets their DNA sampled and stored these days.

 

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