BAA U-turn on passenger fingerprint plan

BAA U-turn on passenger fingerprint plan

Travellers will no longer have finger biometrics taken to track their progress through airport

Airport operator BAA has been forced into a U-turn on taking passengers' fingerprints in Terminal 5 (T5) on the day the terminal opens.

Originally the operator had planned to take four fingerprints and a digital photograph of each passenger at check in – these details would then be cross checked with a fingerprint scan at the gate.

But BAA climbed down after the privacy watchdog expressed concerns over the plan.

"Following a meeting with all relevant parties, including the Information Commissioner and the Border and Immigration Agency, the introduction of fingerprinting for domestic passengers and international passengers transferring on to domestic flights at Heathrow will be temporarily delayed," said BAA in a statement.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) expressed concern that the move may breach data protection laws – even though BAA planned to delete fingerprint data after 24 hours.

"We have concerns about the routine collection of fingerprint information from passengers and we will require reassurance from BAA that the data protection implications of the proposals have been fully addressed," said an ICO spokeswoman.

BAA will now use a single digital photograph to confirm passengers at the gate are the same as those that check in – a system used in most other international UK airports.