Feeds

Iris scans at UK airports, says Home Office

Only trusted travellers need apply

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.