Archives for: April 2004, 03

Sat, 03 April 2004

Permalink 11:08:48 am

US To Start Fingerprinting and Photographing Visitors

It was announed yesterday that from September 2003 all visitors to the US are going to have their fingerprints and photograph taken on arrival to 'help fight terrorism'. Could someone tell me any act of terrorism, anywhere in the world, that would have been prevented by this? If someone is already suspected of terrorism they won't be let in to the country; if intelligence is gained after they enter the country it's too late, and a fingerprint won't help track them down.

Consider this: in October this year, someone other than me enters the US with a faked copy of my passport. The US fingerprints and photgraphs them, and their details are added to the database as me as they are none the wiser. Unaware of this, I then visit the US some time after. As soon as they take my fingerprints it is going to be flagged up that I've visited before and the fingerprints don't match. Imagine the hassle trying to prove you are who you say you are, and that the first person was the imposter.

This just won't work unless other countries share information; as far as I know the UK government doesn't have my fingerprints, and even if they did, there is no plan to share it.

All this is going to hurt tourism. The last time I was in the US, in June 2002, the wait at immigration was an hour. After a long flight this was just about bearable - everyone understood that security would be increased after September 11 (even though you spend 5 minutes getting asked stupid questions that are not going to stop anyone). These new measures are going to double the time it takes to get in to the country. After an 8 hour flight, a 2 hour wait would be just too long. My tourist pounds will be going elsewhere, as, I suspect will many others.

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