Identity, Privacy and Trust

Oct 3 2009   1:54PM GMT

My eyes have expired!

tobystevens tobystevens Profile: tobystevens


Returning from Spain yesterday, I thought I’d jump the queue by using the IRIS biometric entry system. It’s been a while since I’ve used it, since on recent returns to the UK, the gateway has been:

  1. broken;
  2. occupied by an American shouting at the screen wondering why she can’t get through the gate;
  3. broken;
  4. backed up with a longer queue than the regular immigration channel, or;
  5. broken.

However, yesterday IRIS seemed to be the preferred route, so in I stepped, gazed confidently into the robot, which in turn buzzed, spewed out a slip of paper and refused to let me in.


The slip explained that whilst it had recognised my iris pattern, my permission to use the system has expired. Why? My passport’s good for several years yet. It knows who I am. It must be confident I can’t be an imposter. It hasn’t deleted my personal information. So why can’t I get through? And what am I supposed to do about it – do I have to re-enrol? This isn’t exactly a shining example of joined-up systems design…

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  • Robin Wilton
    Welcome to Kafka's "Trial"; the Committee of Affairs will contact you in due course. I came back from Berlin on Friday evening (delayed take-off, 'stacked' landing...) and someone ahead of me in the Iris queue got a ticket as well. Maybe you've both been revoked. Seriously, though, if this is the lack of transparency we should expect from the use of our (voluntarily-registered, let's not forget) credentials, it entirely discourages me from the idea of lodging more of my personal data in the government's systems.
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