Heathrow Terminal 5 to fingerprint domestic passengers

Britain's breaking new ground in the slide into a total surveillance state: as of the end of this month, domestic passengers at the new Heathrow Terminal 5 will be fingerprinted and photographed twice, to "ensure the passenger boarding the aircraft is the same person." The airport says they'll only keep it for 24h -- unless the police need them to keep it longer.

This will all but eliminate terrorism.

Oh, wait, no.

That only works if terrorists are so picky about which domestic flight they blow up that they have to blow up one coming from terminal 5.

Well, I suppose that if you're the kind of lazy suicide bomber who believes in dying for the cause -- but not if it means rebooking your ticket or, you know, driving to Stansted or Gatwick or East Midlands or Manchester, this'll work. And that sounds like a pretty good adversary analysis. We all know how easily dissuaded suicide bombers are.

Time to buy stock in the train companies.

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

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.

"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."

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