A comprehensive “round-up of various recent privacy related stories” from James at Magna Carta Plus.
[hat-tip: John Lettice at The Register, who knows much more about this than me, but I just want to touch on something that he didn't.]
The Telegraph reports that,
Passengers at Heathrow had their fingerprints taken for the first time yesterday [7/12/2006], in tests which could lead to routine biometric scanning at Britain’s airports.
Initially, passengers are being invited to have their fingerprints scanned in return for skipping boarding queues. If the scheme, known as miSense, proves succesful, it could be rolled out across the UK.
Yesterday Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, said the scanning system would improve security as well as allow passengers to move through check-in more quickly.
“This is a good example of how ID cards will be useful when helping people move through security,” he said. “I think it’s going to be popular. People want secure borders. If we can find a way of strengthening security and making it easier for legitimate travellers to move around then I think the public are going to want that.”
He said he did not see the system, which is being piloted over the next 12 months, as a “stand-alone scheme”.
The Government wanted to see it used as part of efforts to control immigration and to check the identity of people coming to live in this country.
Mr Byrne added that, while the Government had never said ID cards would be compulsory, he could envisage a time when such technology was commonplace.
Mr Byrne, a couple of minutes with Google reveals the contrary:
Identity cards will be made compulsory if Labour wins the next election, [ex-] Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said [BBC, March 2006].
Once identity cards are introduced, and especially when, as we intend, they become compulsory…[Lord Bassam of Brighton, Home Office Minister, January 2006]
We will introduce ID cards,including biometric data like fingerprints, backed up by a national register and rolling out initially on a voluntary basis as people renew their passports. [The Labour Party Manifesto, 2005, 916Kb PDF]
“I will now bring forward legislation to bring in a compulsory, national ID card scheme,” said [then Home Secretary] Blunkett in a statement [Silicon, October 2004].
We intend to proceed, by incremental steps, to build a base for a compulsory national ID card scheme, with a final decision to proceed to a compulsory card later, when the conditions for moving to a compulsory card are met. [10 Downing Street, November 2003]
The Register article points out that
although the misSense pilot only had two stages when we covered it last week, it has now sprouted a third deck, miSenseallclear – here we have before and after (NB late arriving readers, this will make no sense at all once the Google cache flushes, but trust us).
Here is the relevant text from 16 November, in case the cache flushes:
As part of IATA’s Simplifying Passenger Travel Programme, a number of Airport, Airline, Government and Technology organisations have developed a trial at Heathrow Airport to test a series of new technologies and processes designed to help make air travel easier.
By using biometric recognition technology, miSense aims to simplify your journey through the airport while maintaining high standards of security.
In addition to miSense, miSenseplus (starts 6 November 2006) links together the Government Immigration Services of the UK, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates to create an international automated fast track passport control service.
And the ‘third deck’ addition:
The third part of the trial, miSenseallclear, involves the forwarding of interactive Advance Passenger Information (iAPI) for analysis by UK authorities, prior to passengers boarding their flight.
Are no-fly lists a good idea?