Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No jackboots required

I see the UK is joining the dishonourable roll of countries that fingerprint foreigners on entry. Apparently, this is to confirm that the person entering the country is the same as the person who applied for a visa (or equivalent) to let them in.

If that's the case, then there's no need to store the fingerprints in perpetuity, right? You can just delete the record pretty much immediately after the comparison is made. Also, there's no need to take a full set of prints. One or two fingers should be plenty to tell whether or not someone matches a single, already-known set.

So that's two simple tests to see whether the UK Border Agency is telling the truth here.

Greatly to my surprise, it passes them both:
On arrival in the United Kingdom, trained Officers will scan two fingerprints on an electronic fingerprint reader at border control. In the majority of cases we will use the right hand thumb and first finger.

...

Passengers will have to provide their fingerprints each time they travel to the United Kingdom [...] Fingerprints will be held for a maximum of 48 hours, after which time they will be destroyed.

So let's hear it for the UK Border Agency, an organisation that may actually be doing its job without unnecessary Stalinism. US DHS, take note.

2 comments:

HiStandards said...

I've yet to make it to the UK. When I do, I'll let you know how they process me. I've only passed between the US, Mexico, Jamaica and the Caymans and as a US citizen I only get a cursory glance at my passport. I'm not sure if there is more going on than I see (behind the scenes) but I've made over a dozen crossings in the last couple years.

vet said...

I don't know how our transatlantic cousins are processed at the moment. I certainly hope Americans get the full treatment - nothing nasty, just enough to make you feel like a criminal - because Brits visiting the US certainly get that nowadays, and what's sauce for the goose...

It's still better than visiting the US, though. At least the prints get destroyed after use. So you don't find yourself on the receiving end of an arrest warrant ten years later.