Heathrow fingerprinting plans 'temporarily delayed'

The privacy implications of fingerprint checks at the airport are to be further considered, following a meeting with the information commissioner

Plans to introduce biometric fingerprint checks for domestic passengers travelling through Heathrow Airport have been delayed after the Information Commissioner's Office raised privacy concerns about the system.

A statement from BAA, which operates Heathrow, said the introduction of fingerprinting technology would be "temporarily delayed" following a meeting with the information commissioner and the Border and Immigration Agency.

In the meantime, BAA will open the new Terminal 5 using photographic identification technology already in use.

The BAA statement said: "We will be working closely with the information commissioner and the Home Office over the next few weeks to agree the best approach going forward."

Concerns were raised with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) by consumer rights group Privacy International, which said there "appears to be no basis in UK law for passenger fingerprinting at Heathrow".

The ICO contacted BAA about the fingerprinting system after these concerns were raised, seeking reassurance that the implications of the proposals had been fully addressed.

An ICO statement said: "It is essential that, before introducing new systems and technologies which could accelerate the growth of a surveillance society, full consideration is given to minimising the impact on privacy and that data-protection safeguards are in place to limit any risks."