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Past the Point of Reasons Why

The Guardian reports that the government wants biometric iris-recognition machines installed in ten UK airports within a year.

The scanners will probably be welcomed by regular travellers for “speeding them past immigration queues”. Simply look the machine in the eye and say goodbye.

How many will consider the privacy ramifications of saving a few minutes at the airport? Are we to believe that once a big enough database is established these machines will not spread?

How long before we are scanned every time we enter a public place and that information recorded centrally? All to protect society, of course.

It seems Big Blunkett is determined to get us all on file by any means necessary.

3 comments to Past the Point of Reasons Why

  • Mark Ellott

    I can live with a little delay. I certainly don’t plan to cooperate.

    Was anyone aware of the fingerprinting activities of the Kent and Avon & Somerset police forces and local retailers? Here, users of credit cards are requested to submit a thumb print at point of sale that is recorded on the credit card slip in case of fraudulent use. The reasoning being that if your card has been stolen, the thief will not want to agree to this. Ergo, refuseniks are suspicious folk…

    Although we are told that people are perfectly entitled to refuse. So, what, exactly is the point unless everyone agrees?

    I refused. How long before the knock at the door?????

  • Although the sentiments expressed are to be commended we have long accepted that standards of privacy at airports are different than normal.

    Everyone passing through an airport has long been required to identify themselves with a passport. Iris identification doesn’t significantly change this. Irises are not like fingerprints – you are aware when your iris is being read, it’s not a marker you leave about.

    The slippery slope argument that the creation of an iris database will lead to widespread deployment of such checks is a very subtle one and The Slippery Slope Argument has long been misused. The same could have been said of the original introduction of passports – but you certainly aren’t asked to show your passport when stopped on the street.

    The time to rail against this is when and if such scans do spread.

    Of course, the question of how good these devices are is a very important one. Passports aren’t perfect, but they involve a real person and skill in creating a fake. The UK government has a record of disasters when it comes to IT projects and I could easily see the backend running on an Access database on WinXP or some other equally tragic setup.

  • Mark Ellott

    Increased security, maybe…but iris scans? How, exactly will that stop me hijacking a plane and crashing it into the building of my choice?

    Oh, it won’t….. ;-)

    It’s arguable, of course that we don’t really need passports. Once in Europe, I can ride my motorcycle at will across borders with nary a check – indeed, if it wasn’t for getting out of the UK, I wouldn’t need it. So why the difference with flying? Surely the issue is whether I have the means to cause violence on my person (such as nail scissors!?!) not whether I can be identified. After all, if I have never been convictted of a criminal act, I won’t be on the system until I do – by then, 30,000 feet up, it’s too late.