Feeds

Iris scans at UK airports, says Home Office

Only trusted travellers need apply

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

The Home Office is to install iris scanning technology in major UK airports. It says this will speed up immigration times for those who register on the scheme, as well as providing a "substantial increase in security".

It has signed a five-year contract with Sagem, the French company, to provide the Iris Recognition Immigration System, IRIS.

The Immigration Service will invite "certain groups of foreign nationals" to join the scheme. To qualify, would-be registrants must have a track record of complying with the UK's immigration laws.

Such people might be non EEA nationals who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, be regular travellers or hold UK work permits, for example.

The first installation will be at Heathrow terminals two and four, with four other airports joining in 2005. The Home Office expects more than one million people will have registered to use the system within five years.

This will not be a replacement for passports, so will it save time?

A Home Office spokesman explained that the scanning process takes twelve seconds, and that this will be much faster than queuing and then being interviewed by an immigration officer on arrival, which they have to do each time they re-enter the country.

This makes the immigration process sound a little more involved that it actually is. This reporter has travelled more than once with a foreign national who was travelling into the country on a UK work visa. In his experience, the interview with the immigration officer is not a particularly lengthy process and doesn't mean going into a little room to be questioned.

These figures are based on a trial at Heathrow Airport involving 200 people, not anecdotal evidence, the Home Office spokesman soldiered on. Not much of a chance of a queue forming with 200 people, we said. But what about the millions you are expecting?

It will still be faster, he insisted, adding that the findings are also based on immigration officers' experience, and that the IRIS technology will free up their time too.

The trial was conducted at Heathrow, and was a joint project by British Airports Authority, the Immigration Service, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

The government will launch a publicity campaign at the end of 2004 to sell the idea to its target audience. Enrolment will be voluntary, and all applicants will be vetted very carefully. ®

Related stories

Commissioner 'increasingly alarmed' by ID card scheme
A tag too far - Blunkett's satellite tracking plans
Blunkett appoints development partner for ID card project
US lubes passports with RFID snake oil
Everything you never wanted to know about the UK ID card

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.