Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fingerprint required for car hire at Stansted

The BBC are reporting that car hire firms at Stansted now require a fingerprint from every customer, allegedly for security reasons.

"If you want to hire a car at Stansted Airport, you now need to give a fingerprint.

The scheme being tested by Essex police and car hire firms, is not voluntary. Every car rental customer must take part.

These are stored by the hire firms - and will be handed over to the police if the car is stolen or used for another crime"

A CID spokesman said criminal gangs had been targetting car hire firms at the airport and that:

"It's not intrusive really. It's different - and people need to adjust to it. It's not Big Brother, it's about protecting people's identities. The police will never see these thumbprints unless a crime is committed."

His statement is understandable coming from a police officer with a serious car theft problem on his beat but it is flawed from a security perspective. The 'treat everybody as if they are a criminal because a small percentage of people engage in criminal activity' approach is not sustainable from a security or a societal perspective. The activity is intrusive; people do not need to adjust to it and can choose not to hire cars at Stansted; it will not protect people's identities and in fact exposes them to identity theft by car hire company insiders or those who gain access to their databases; and as for the police only seeing the thumprints once a crime is committed, well the security damage is already done as far as the individual is conerned long before any crime has been committed. Will it stop criminal gangs targetting the car hire firms? I doubt it but they may adjust their modus operandi in future, which I guess, from the police officer's perspective is a partially successful outcome i.e. the disruption of the criminal activity.