London, Mar 27 : Heathrow Airport has abandoned plans to take the fingerprints of passengers at its new fifth terminal, following a warning by the UK Government's Information Commissioner that the move could violate the Data Protection Act.
BAA, the operator of the airport, is now, facing huge embarrassment when it was expecting public attention on its long-awaited 4.3 billion pound terminal.
As per the controversial scheme, travellers were required to give impression of their fingers before boarding a plane.
BAA would hold further negotiations with both the Information Commissioner and the Border and Immigration Agency before deciding its next move; The Telegraph quoted the company's spokesperson as saying.
Till the next move is decided, passengers will be photographed before taking departure gate.
It may be recalled that the decision to take the impression of all domestic passengers fingers was the outcome of demands for heightened security by the Home Office.
It was believed that as domestic and international passengers share the departure lounge at the terminal, domestic travellers would bypass border controls.
Last week, Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith had questioned the necessity of the move, adding that photographing - the option now being adopted - would be far less intrusive.
Repeated assurances by BAA that the fingerprints would be destroyed within 24 hours failed to pacify campaigners with one leading barrister telling the airport operator he would refuse to co-operate with what he described as an "Orwellian measure."
"I am a bit worried that it is merely on hold," said a civil liberty campaigner Gus Hosein, who is also an academic at the London School of Economics specialising in the impact of technology on civil liberties.
"BAA wanted to treat the UK general population, including children, as though they were criminals and having realised the error of their ways they've only placed the programme on ice," said Hosein.