Terminal 5 fingerprinting; the howls begin

March 8th, 2008

Heathrow airport first to fingerprint

By David Millward and Gordon Rayner

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

For the first time at any airport, the biometric checks will apply to all domestic passengers leaving the terminal, which will handle all British Airways flights to and from Heathrow.

The key here is domestic flights; that you are being treated like a criminal to travel in your own country.

These measures are extra and unnecessary and are the result of the collaboration of the architect and the vendors of fingerprinting technology.

The controversial security measure is also set to be introduced at Gatwick, Manchester and Heathrow’s Terminal 1, and many airline industry insiders believe fingerprinting could become universal at all UK airports within a few years.

These are not ‘security measures’ they are Security Theatre none of these measures can predict how a person is going to behave, and in order to stop bad behavior, that is what fingerprinting has to do, and it cannot do that.

This is a measure to control and track the movement of people, pure and simple. It is being introduced to soften up the public to the idea of universal fingerprinting. Since no one who goes through this airport is being checked against a criminal register, you will always be able to get onto your plane at Terminal 5, after having been fingerprinted. This will reduce the apprehension that many people have about being fingerprinted. The trap will be sprung however, when they instantly check your identity against the NIR when you ‘finger in’ and you are not allowed to board a plane because you have not paid your Council Tax.

That is the ultimate aim of all of this, and they can afford to throw away millions of scans in the first years of operation because what they will be gaining is a change in perception, and that is worth the lost data. In any case, they will start storing the fingerprints eventually and since no one will care, it will simply just be announced and that will be that. Even if people do care, no one in the UK seems to have the will to resist this garbage.

All four million domestic passengers who will pass through Terminal 5 annually after it opens on March 27 will have four fingerprints taken, as well as being photographed, when they check in.

To ensure the passenger boarding the aircraft is the same person, the fingerprinting process will be repeated just before they board the aircraft and the photograph will be compared with their face.

First of all, you have the right to refuse to do this.

Secondly, we have written about this before in detail.

BAA, the company which owns Heathrow, insists the biometric information will be destroyed after 24 hours and will not be passed on to the police.

They might not do this NOW but they could easily do it in the future at any time, and also, if the police demand it, they will comply instantaneously.

It says the move is necessary to prevent criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants trying to bypass border controls.

This is an absolute LIE and they know it. See the two BLOGDIAL posts for a full explanation.

The company said the move had been necessitated by the design of Terminal 5, where international and domestic passengers share the same lounges and public areas after they have checked in.

Without the biometric checks, the company says, potential criminals and illegal immigrants arriving on international flights or in transit to another country could bypass border controls by swapping boarding passes with a domestic passenger who has already checked in.

They could then board the domestic flight, where proof of identity is not currently required, fly on to another UK airport and leave without having to go through passport control.

The truth of this is that Terminal 5 was built with this deliberate design flaw by Richard Rogers; instead of using walls to control passengers like every other airport, they made the deliberate decision to create a single area for all passengers, and then to use biometrics to segregate the domestic and international passengers.

This building was designed in this way specifically because they believed it was possible to do it and maintain immigration controls through biometrics instead of walls. They deliberately intended to have millions of people fingerprinted. This is why, in the two BLOGDIAL posts above, I call this one of the worst buildings ever made.

Most other airports avoid the problem by keeping international and domestic passengers separate at all times, but the mixed lounges exist at Gatwick, Manchester and Heathrow’s Terminal 1.

And all of a sudden, there is a need for this security theatre at Gatwick and Terminal 1? For decades people have been traveling through these airports without problems, despite the experience becoming increasingly unpleasant over the years, and the immigration controls have been enforced properly.

The fact of the matter is that fingerprint technology vendors have hoodwinked the government and industry. They have almost successfully pulled off one of the greatest hoaxes the world of business has ever seen. They have nearly succeeded in the greatest snake-oil transaction that has ever been.

Gatwick and Manchester currently deal with the problem by photographing all passengers as they pass through security, and checking the picture against their face at the departure gate.

This is less intrusive than being photographed AND fingerprinted. The fact of the matter is though that it is better to use walls; ARCHITECTURE to control people and enforce immigration laws.

Terminal 1 will soon introduce fingerprinting.

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

Correct. It really is a treasure trove. Think about it: They be able to capture every travelers (British or not):

  • fingerprints
  • photograph
  • passport details
  • destination
  • other itinerary data
  • traveling companions

and through connection with other databases,

  • credit card details
  • spending habits
  • home address

If you believe that the police do not want access to this, and to take it further, the MI5 will not have realtime back door access from day one of operations, you are COMPLETELY DELUSIONAL. This data is worth the weight of all the airplanes in the British Airways fleet. There is no way that they are going to passively sit back and let it evaporate.

There are also fears that fingerprinting will add to the infamous “Heathrow hassle” which has led to some business travellers holding meetings in other countries because they want to avoid the sprawling, scruffy airport at any cost.

Its already happening, and this fingerprinting nonsense, Fascist in nature and intent, is already putting off americans and others.

Although fingerprinting is carried out at some foreign airports – most notably in the US – as part of immigration checks for international arrivals, Heathrow will be the first to fingerprint domestic passengers before they board their flights.

Britain always seems to be the country trying hard to look toughest without understanding the real nature of the problems and the forces involved. Britain brings in ID cards; they are the worst, most invasive, most Fascist in the whole world. Britain brings in fingerprinting at airports; it is the only one fingerprinting for domestic flights, a totally unnecessary, stupid, over the top measure.

Britain is better than this, and the British are smarter than this.

Even if domestic passengers have a passport with them, they will still have to go through the biometric checks.

Which demonstrates that all of this is total Security Theatre. They are not interested in correctly identifying people so that the immigration rules are adhered to; were that the case, British Citizens carrying British Passports with them would be allowed to board domestic flights without being fingerprinted. It also shows that they do not trust the new Biometric Passports as a way to verify the identity of the holder.

Think about how ridiculous this is. These are the same vendors who say that the biometric fingerprint scanning identifies the holder and secures the passport, but when it comes to Terminal 5, this is suddenly not good enough, and the passport is useless for the purpose of identification!

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.

It will turn them into suspects. It will violate them on an unprecedented scale.

The real question here is, “What are you prepared to do to bring back the society that you grew up in”.

“There will also be a suspicion that this is the thin end of the wedge, that we are being softened up by making fingerprinting seem normal in the run-up to things like ID cards.”

This is not a suspicion, it is a plain fact. This IS the thin end of the wedge, and it is one of several wedges that are going to meet together to slice the british public into mincemeat.

Mr Hosein claimed automatic fingerprint technology is only 90 per cent accurate at best, and clear fingerprints can be difficult to obtain.

True, but irrelevant. Even if it worked 100% of the time, the principle of it is wrong.

Simon Davies, of campaign group Privacy International, suggested a photograph alone would be a perfectly adequate – and much cheaper – way of identifying passengers.

“If they are photographing people anyway, why can’t that be used as a means of identifying them, rather than taking biometric data?” he said. “It would probably be 50 times more reliable at a 50th of the cost.

True, but what they will counter with is the studies showing that staff do not check photographs in IDs properly. “Only a machine can be trusted” they will say.

“Fingerprint recognition technology is far from perfect, and the experience in the US has shown that the information can only be used retrospectively, not in real time, as it takes so long to match a fingerprint to the one held on the database.

“I think once again we are seeing the introduction of technology whose benefits are illusory.”

The only thing that is not illusory about this is the money made by the vendors. Follow the money, and every time you come face to face with the real culprits, and on this particular trail, you will pass by Richard Rogers before you come face to face with the devil.

A spokesman for British Airways said: “We are supportive of the use of fingerprinting at Terminal 5. We need to make sure the right people get on the right flights and this will definitely help us to ease check-in and boarding procedures.”

They would say that wouldn’t they? What are they going to do, call it all off?!

BAA said the fingerprinting scheme was decided upon after consultation with the Home Office, and the company is keen to reassure passengers that their fingerprints will not be made available to any outside agency.


“Fire is hot, but you can put your hand in it and not be burned”.

As I have been saying, this is a softening up exercise.

A spokesman said: “The data will be destroyed after 24 hours. It will not be made available to the police or anyone else. This is purely for border and immigration control.”

Immigration control is being re-imagined as a part of the police force. They are even calling it ‘Border Control Police’.

They cannot even lie convincingly.

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

So now, a passport is OK for identification!!
It is only BRITISH passports that are not good enough to identify the holder!!


However, the fingerprinting of domestic passengers is expected to be the first step in the increasing use of the technology for people coming to and from Britain.

Within the next few weeks BAA will announce plans for voluntary fingerprinting under a so-called “trusted traveller” scheme.

Actually, the whole thing is voluntary. You can refuse to submit to it, and they accommodate you. This article is incorrect in saying that it is mandatory.

Those willing to have their fingerprints and passport information stored would be able to bypass immigration queues by placing their finger on a scanner instead of waiting to have their passport checked.

And people WILL DO IT, which is the shocking thing.

The move follows a trial of the technology, known as “miSense”, at Heathrow last year.

non-sense more like!

In the long term, fingerprinting could become even more widespread when the Government introduces tighter embarkation controls next year, which have not yet been specified but could range from having to show passports more often before boarding or using biometric checks.

Officials began talks with the aviation industry within months of an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airlines in August 2006.

You see? an ALLEGED plot, not even a real one (not that that is a reason to give up your liberty). They do not even have to blow up the planes to push these measures through.

At the time, the Home Office refused to rule out the use of fingerprint and biometric checks as part of routine embarkation controls, and some industry insiders believe universal fingerprinting may be brought in when biometric passports are introduced in 2012.

One option could be to routinely check fingerprints against the criminal record database – a step which is currently only taken when immigration officers have a reason to be suspicious.


And there you have it. At the end, an admission that they want to be able to run your prints against the criminal database every time you travel. This is not about immigration, this is about controlling the ordinary person. As the system marches on, and like US-VISIT, they catch only 1000 people at a cost of FIFTEEN MILLION dollars each, pressure will grow for the system to be used to catch any criminal of any kind, meaning that they will broaden the definition of criminal to people who have parking tickets, fines, ‘CCJs’ and any manner of ‘offense’ no matter how trifling.

We already know these systems are not about catching ‘terrorists’.

What else can I say, other than, “you have been warned”.

2 Responses to “Terminal 5 fingerprinting; the howls begin”

  1. BLOGDIAL » Blog Archive » BBC terrorist journalist strikes again: Heathrow Terminal 5 Says:

    […] here are the other posts on this subject we have written, and thanks to the lurker who emailed […]

  2. BLOGDIAL » Blog Archive » Privacy International complaint poised to shut down Heathrow passenger fingerprinting Says:

    […] Terminal 5 fingerprinting; the howls begin http://www.irdial.com/blogdial/?p=1015 […]

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