Millions of passengers flying from British airports will be fingerprinted from next year under controversial Government anti-terror plans.
The measures, which will apply to both domestic and international passengers, are being introduced despite opposition from the Information Commissioner, Britain's privacy watchdog.
The Commissioner forced Heathrow to abandon a similar plan earlier this year after warning that it was potentially illegal under data protection laws.
Critics say the main reason for the scheme is that airport operator BAA wants to maximise profits by ensuring all passengers are able to spend money in 'duty free' shops. As a result, 'common departure lounges', where both domestic and international passengers can mix freely, are being introduced at all major UK airports.
This poses an obvious security risk in that an incoming international passenger - possibly a terrorist or a criminal - could switch tickets with an accomplice booked on a domestic flight.
The international passenger would then be able to fly elsewhere in Britain and enter the country without being checked by immigration authorities. Now, the
Home Office is busy finalising new rules requiring compulsory fingerprinting for all passengers.
Updated orders are likely to be issued to airport operators before Christmas.
A spokesman for the Home Office's UK Borders Agency said the Government was determined to 'strengthen our borders using new technology'.
But a spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office said yesterday: 'We have raised the data protection implications of the proposals with BAA and UK Borders Agency. We have requested more information about the requirements the agency may have for fingerprint checks.'