back to article Home Office to order fingerprinting of air passengers

Fingerprinting of air passengers in the UK is back on the agenda, despite its having been derailed by the Information Commissioner earlier this year. the Home Office now plans to change aviation security rules to compel airport operators to collect fingerprints from next year onwards. A 'count them in, count them out' system had …

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For viz readers

The bottom inspectors have arrived - have you wiped !

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Anonymous Coward

heh

I'm so shocked... government making up ever more oppresive, paranoid, unnecessary laws on the cusp of its enevitable eviction from power.

Unlike Bush, our lame duck leaders have all the power to royaly f--k our country up in their final two years of power.

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Little Britain ? Nahhhh Little USA

America's got one daddy daddy I want one ...

Pathetic...

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Unhappy

beat the rush

Looks like people's plans to leave this police-state before the ID-card lockdown in 2012 will need to be bought forward. I'm out May next year, hopefully I'll slip under the wire.

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Stop

A solution looking for a problem

Cos it does not address ticket switching unless you recheck the prints at the boarding gate

Why don't they just do re-check-in for transfers with whatever the current check-in procedure is?

Can I suggest a new verbified active name for the immigration people

United Kingdom Guarding Borders has a nice ring (and an even more comforting acronym)

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Alert

Petition the PM on this

There is already a petition in place to request the banning of collecting biometric data from people making use of essential services within the UK. That is: buses, planes, electricity, water etc.

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/NoBiometrics/

Please do your bit and sign up.

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Flame

Proportionate . . . I don't think so.

I was 'discussing' the government's anti-terrorism agenda with a colleague the other day. This person was (broadly) in favour of these actions until I asked what we are being protected from. How many people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the UK in, say, the last thirty years? (This allows us to include when the IRA was active over here and we can include Lockerbie). I don't know this number but I am prepared to bet it is not much more than a thousand or so. (Don't get me wrong, I'm no more keen than the next sapient entity on being burned, blasted, infected or dirty-bombed) But 10,000 people A YEAR are killed on the UK's roads.

Now, where should the money be spent?

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Happy

RE: beat the rush

I'm outta here in less than 60 days

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Coat

@AC Re: RE: beat the rush

You should be out in no more than 42

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it gets worse

Supposing they did introduce this measure - do you think that this will improve speed through the airports or not?

I certainly cannot see anyway in which this will provide any greater level of security against terrorists. It will waste our time, money, resources and allow the government to criminalise ordinary people. The concept of using falsified fingerprints has been known and options available since the 60's.

Then when they lose the data, any old Tom Dick or Harry can use it to steal your identity - because the government will say that the data cannot possibly be wrong, or in any way leaked, you will suddenly become a criminal overnight.

I am going to change my name by deed poll to "Mr Cynical".

I wonder if in a year's time, they will try to change the law to allow themselves to remain in power past the 5 year limit?

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Black Helicopters

Why don't existing checks work?

At every international boarding gate they check both passport and boarding pass. If you swap boarding pass then your name won't match your passport. if you swap passport then your face doesn't match. If your face still matches then you have a problem with passports in general.

By the way, has anyone else been through T5 recently. I was unlucky enough to go through on my latest trip to the UK, and it is probably one of the worst airports I've ever had the displeasure to be herded through. It has been designed as a bad shopping mall with air travel glued on to the periphery. Arriving I was unfortunate enough to arrive in one of the satellite gate areas. That meant walking about a million miles to get to a silly little train that takes you 10 yards, but you wait 10 minutes for it. Then you walked about a million miles in the terminal before you were let out. Next when I flew out it was even worse. Firstly, the "fast check-in" desks had no queues set up for them, so you got no priority queuing for business or first class, and it was just a scrum across the whole terminal, so it appeared to be luck how fast your got handled. Then you went through security which didn't seem to be well laid out, and had these hugely complex conveyors that take the trays in both directions (rather than someone having to take the trays back manually), the camera that detected when you had things left in a tray and stopped it going back through security seemed to not be working most of the time, so you got huge backlogs of trays. Then the departure lounge has been laid out so you have to walk past ALL the shops to get anywhere. It was something like a 10 or 15 minute walk to get from security to the BA lounge. The walk involved going down one set of escalators, past a tonne of shops, then back up 2 sets of escalators to a location really close to security (as far as I could tell). Then you got in the lounge and it was dreadful compared to the old lounges in the other terminals. It was too big, and far too impersonal. Finally, because the lounge was so big, they didn't bother announcing when you needed to leave for your flight like they do in the T4 lounge. And I left from the B-gates, so another 400 mile walk, with a billion escalators, to get to an underground train that goes every 10 minutes and takes you 10 yards, before going back up a billion escalators ready for another 400 mile walk.

It is pretty obvious that T5 has been designed to maximise the number of passengers around the stores in the terminal. It is pretty clear that the terminal is pointlessly big, and that instead of having a vast terminal with satellites, they should have built 3 or 4 small terminals - a bit like the lots of small terminals model at JFK for example. Instead we have a monster terminal that is just too big for anything to work in it. If they make me start handing over fingerprints there I'll stop flying BA.

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Pirate

Here's a novel suggestion

Why don't they check that the name on the passport/permitted photo-id actually matches the name on the boarding-pass? Absolutely zero need to throw money at a non-problem. Or ankle-tag (or wrist-tag) everyone that comes into the airport, and remove it at the gate. Or write the flight-number on their forehead in UV-readable ink at check-in.

I think it all comes down to the fact that we're probably the only country on the planet that doesn't check passports on exit.

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@Ratz Re: petition the PM

I'd sign it, but then they'll know I'm with the resistance.

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Paris Hilton

Alternative

For the purpose of ticket switch it would be quite simple to "stamp" the back of the hand with "invisible" ink of passengers with their ticket number (and another code) which means that the hand has to go with the ticket. That way there would be no objection on the ID side of things and a reasonable standard of checking would be enabled. Probably too simple to implement or should I say too cheap and therefore not enough profit to be made.

Paris because she has probably seen this in use in quite a few nightclubs in her time.

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Silver badge

Re: Petition the PM on this

Best laugh I've had all day.

Don't you realise the site was set up to find out which government department could ignore more people.

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Stop

Technically incompetent

Unless they are going to collect "rolled fingerprints" like the police the idea of matching to crime prints or whatever is a non-starter, unless they want to arrest hundreds of "suspects" every day. Even then the chances of false positives is significant unless all 10 fingers are taken, which would cause queues that made air travel virtually impossible.

This is another "seen to be doing something" idea which will not work.

Many airports already use photos for gate checking, it does work and takes virtually no extra time, so what's the real reason for wanting fingerprints?

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Happy

RE: beat the rush

Since I'm already outside of Blighty, I've really beaten the rush. :)

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Bronze badge

vote economically

I am happy not to go into the lounge aka shopping area at all if it means I can refuse to be fingerprinted. The joy of an airport mall is not worth me handle my biometrics over. Can we insist on being escorted to the gate immediately, so as not to be daubed? If we tell airports that we will not fly via those what daub us? What civil disobedience can we do?

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Stop

Thin end of the wedge

Most flights I have taken with a transfer involve showing the passport and boarding card immediately prior to boarding the plane each time, even when there is a connecting flights section or a proper secure transit area with no domestic/international mingling. In fact Sydney has a secure transit area with a full x-ray/swabbing screening process in it! That takes long enough as it is, add fingerprinting and the time taken to check back to see if the person entered the area (and what passport/boarding card they used) and it will take forever to get on board. No doubt claims will be made that a biometric ID card would solve this, although you would still have to fingerprinted...

Which makes me wonder if this is linked to the fact that a lot of US airports don't have a transit area or int'l/domestic distinction and they are actively fingerprinting people already?

Sticky jam bun just before boarding?

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Stop

Come in number 6.......

When you arrive you get a boarding pass. Web cam on desk. Photo on boarding pass. Job done.

Soooo difficult to do, even my old gym had this technology 5 years ago.

Then again, how are we supposed to fund the boys a few billion to implement this.

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Stop

Isn't this dead easy?

Issue boarding pass on wrist-strap, which can't be removed except by cutting.

Confirm on entrance to plane.

Job done. No need for fingerprints.

How hard was that?

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@Maybe a sign of shit architecture?

>just re-model it to keep dom / int'l passengers apart

Remember the point of theT5 shopping centre is to get domestic passengers to wander around expensive shops for 3hours as well - you don't want them stuck in an area with only WHSmith and tie-rack.

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Security Checks

Surely the idea of the "Security Checks" are to make sure that no one that is a "known risk" should be flying on either a domestic OR an international flight. After all it's still dead people if you blow up a London Edinburgh flight, same as on a London paris flight.

In order to "switch tickets" you'd need 2 people with tickets in matching names, as they are checked at gate, and SHOULD be checked against photo ID for boarding. So assuming you made it through to there what's the problem ?

Also by this point you've been through the "security net" and had all dangerous soft drings, makeup, sharp pencils, etc removed from you and your luggage has been screened for bombs (Oddly given how often I fly with a stack of electricals in my case it's never been opened to look at them, yes I know how I pack the spagetti of leads) So I can't see any benefit of taking prints at security / Checkin and the gate. What MIGHT be an idea is that when you check in you cannot re-mix with the "rabble" and go out another way to security directly.

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Reciprocity

Now if they wanted to set up a scheme to fingerprint US citizens on entry I don't think we'd object to that, seeing as that's what they do to us. Brazil got it right on this one.

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@ Colin

Hohoho...very good...

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Flame

camel straw back busted

Time to go

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easy solution

dont fly from heathrow when booking a flight.

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Anonymous Coward

Howto: fight back against

Seeing as the neo-labour government doesn't listen to the individual, but does listen to business (like the fascists that they are), I propose something like the following civil disruption:

When you've got a couple of hours spare, go to a travel agents and go through the motions of booking a very expensive holiday a good 12+ months away... of course, resist giving personal details, although this will be what they want from you straight away, so it might be best to be prepared with some fake details.

Then, bring up the subject of fingerprints. Refuse to do any business if the travel agent cannot promise that you will not be fingerprinted: a promise they cannot make, especially further into the future. And interrogate the travel agent about what airports are scanning people, what ports etc.. Even if they don't know, it will help spread the cause to people who witness what goes on in the shop, and even make the staff aware of the part they are playing in the errosion of our liberties.

Once the travel agents feel they are losing business because of the prospect of their customers being treated like animals, the pressure will move onto the government in a way that is good for everyone.

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RE: beat the rush

Hmph, I was planning for job-related reasons on waiting until mid-2011 before emigrating, but I may have to bring it forward, and suffer reduced job prospects overseas as a result.

I don't think this scheme alone would make me do that, but I'm certainly keeping my eye very closely on the ball. Will it be too late by 2011?

(I get the impression that things are quite a bit worse here than they are in the US...)

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Pirate

UK Road Deaths

AC above said: "But 10,000 people A YEAR are killed on the UK's roads"

No, in 2007 road deaths have dropped under 3000. Still too many, and your point is very valid, just check the facts...

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Black Helicopters

@Petition the PM on this

A fat lot of good it will do - I still signed up - but these c***s that we have in power at the moment will never change anything for the better.

1. They believe that they are never wrong (HMRC, NHS IT, ID Cards, Biometrics, RFID Cards in Passports, 42 Days)

2. Everyone will always tow the party line irrespective of dictates of common sence

3. They will never give a straight answer

4. They will always spin any answers that are given

5. They never take any responsibility for their numerous f***-ups

6. And they are behaving in exactly the same way as the previous Conservative government was behaving during their last days in government.

Given that between the UK.gov and US.gov, they are trying to rule the World, I'm wondering where anyone can run to escape them...

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Go

Won't go back even for cash.

I have already left the country, but regrettfully I still have a lot of stuff in a friend's loft, which I shall have to pickup within the next few years, but thankfully, courier companies help here.

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re Proportionate . . . I don't think so.

The actual figure for road deaths last year was a tad under 3000.

Given that every single terrorist incident dominate the headlines for weeks I would say 1000 was an overestimate for deaths caused by terrorism in the last thirty years for the mainland UK.

While the casualties were higher in NI its difficult to distinguish between terrorist victims, deaths from conficts between various terrorist groups and "disiplinary" actions within terrorist groups.

Perhaps more significantly apart from two sadly incompatent dimwits at Glasgow airport there have been zero (0) avaition related victims of terrorism in the UK - ever. So what excatly are we being protected against?

As far as I can work out the most serious danger is having Niomi Campbell spit at you -- but you have to buy a fisrt class ticket for that.

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@Ratz: Petition the PM on this

Have forwarded your link to the usual suspects. Don't think these things do any good in themselves, but you never know.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC: I'm outta here in less than 60 days

There could be another 42 yet...

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Happy

@AC Beat the rush

88 days left in blighty for me. Its been a long time planning but will soon be bidding farewell.

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Alert

Where to go?

OK you're going to leave to escape the Labour Nazi's, but where to go? This seems to be a global phenomena

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Silver badge

What was that threat again ?

How many times has this ''loophole'' been exploited ? The response to a threat need to be commensurate with the actual risk. This is just an excuse to fingerprint lots of people.

Anyone want to run a book on how long before this data ends up being shared with the cops -- all in the name of stopping terrorists and paedophiles of course!

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Smile at T1

I flew out of Heathrow Terminal 1 last week. Everyone was photographed before going through security. The photo was checked when you went to the domestic/Channel Islands/Ireland departure gates. They checked your passport and boarding pass too. Not sure what benefit the photo gives to that process.

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Hang on...

Isn't this already addressed by *having people's names on the fucking tickets*? Jesus christ on a bike.

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Black Helicopters

@it gets worse by Tony

"I wonder if in a year's time, they will try to change the law to allow themselves to remain in power past the 5 year limit?"

And what will you do if they "try" it?

Parliament makes the laws, nobody else.

The House of Commons has to pass a new 'law' by majority - NuLabour still have one (but all we need is a few more by-elections;-)

The House of Lords ratifies that the new 'law' is good for the country and should be passed to the Statute books - or not, one would hope, for something like this idea - with the result that if the HoL doesn't like it, it goes bak to the HoC for "editting" or just gets binned.

Oh, except Blair gave us the Parliament Act and now there's nothing to stop Brown pushing through anything he likes, regardless of what the Lords say...

And if that one doesn't work (but I can't see any way it could fail), all he needs to do is claim it is for Security Reasons (ie part of The War On Terrorism) and nobody in the HoC would dare disagree, and probably not even question him...

Must dash, I hear a black helicopter overhea......f; gjhlhj qwju <...carrier lost>

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Anonymous Coward

Re:Smile at T1

"I flew out of Heathrow Terminal 1 last week. Everyone was photographed before going through security. The photo was checked when you went to the domestic/Channel Islands/Ireland departure gates. They checked your passport and boarding pass too. Not sure what benefit the photo gives to that process."

The photo was taken to be added to yet another database so that the state have an additional photo of you which they know is you. They know that your appearence was how it is in the photo as of a certain date.... maybe the people applying for passports recently have been taking the piss with their appearence..... I did.

When I renewed my passport last year, I had not had a shave or haircut for over 6 months. I also read all the rules about passport photos and found in the instructions for photographers that black and white photos are allowed, so my RFID bigbrother-ready passport has a photo in that looks like it was taken in the early 1970s. I also got the place that took the passport photo to put a copy of the file on a USB stick for me, so in the future I will never have to have a photo taken for stuff like passport and licences, I can just provide exactly the same one they already have.

I do think that given enough time, budget, computing power and photos of individuals, an organisation would be able to build up a very accurate profile of your face..... just perfect to be plugged into the CCTV systems.

I used my comedy passport in February, and on the way back into the country through Gatwick the guy checking passports really looked confused. I just said "don't worrk mate, it is me", smiled, and he immediately gave the passport back and waved me through..... so even with all this tech a little bit of social engineering would probably work wonders if you wanted to exploit the passport checking.

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Pirate

Not quite that bad

"Oh, except Blair gave us the Parliament Act and now there's nothing to stop Brown pushing through anything he likes, regardless of what the Lords say..."

I think you'll find it was Asquith and Attlee who gave us the Parliament Acts. The Parliament Acts cannot be used to extend the life of a parliament, so to do what you suggest would require using the Parliament Acts to amend the Parliament Acts to remove that exception, or the Lords' veto altogether. There probably isn't enough time or unthinking lobby fodder left in this parliament to do that. The present Government has worked steadily at tilting the balance of the constitution for 11 years, and it has attempted to make slavish loyalty the principal virtue of MPs, but there really isn't a majority on the Labour benches who would back an obvious attempt at a coup.

...

The point to notice is that this is the *Home Office* trying to take advantage of HMG's incredible weakness and suggestibility to ram through ever more authoritarian measures before someone gets a grip.

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Anonymous Coward

@Where to go?

South Korea, Philopeans, Japan, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, to name a few, some may not be quite as "democratic(funny word in the face of British current political state)" but at least you know what you're getting into and they tend not to BS you as much. Maybe South America somewhere, Canada... there are a good few places really.

And they tend to operate on more of a "you can be as odd as you like, just don't mess with the government" kind of vibe. Where as in the UK you best comply to the Parties accepted norms or they'll lock you up.

And at least the girls are prettier.

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IT Angle

on the contrary

If there is a problem mixing passengers for domestic and and international flights, wouldn't a more direct solution be to use separate terminals?

On a personal note, there is a chink in the armour: come to England, and stay, or blow yourself up first. There are no fingerprints on the way in. I might retire, and buy one of the cheap houses in the panic sale.

The Germans have a nice new twist, they will introduce e-ID cards by 2012, and fingerprints are optional, in the premium version only. Carrots and sticks have not yet been anounced.

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@ Anonymous Coward

'Oh, except Blair gave us the Parliament Act '

Actually though they're the sort of law that would give him wet dreams, Blair got beat to it - twice, once in 1911 and once in 1949. However New Labour have abused the two Parliament Acts and used them far more than any other government.

Labour is also committed to further reducing the power of the Lords should it be re-elected, further tipping powers towards the executive in the Commons.

As for extending the life of a Parliament...

The Parliament Act 1911 set the term to a maximum of five years, but that is not absolute. A series of acts passed in the Second World War extended Parliament for a maximum of ten years on the grounds that an election would be a distraction and potentially divisive during a crisis.

So a government could introduce a bill that struck down all or part of the Parliament Act 1911 and simply declare a new maximum term (we've had maximum terms of both three and seven years in the past); or they could try and declare a situation so serious that an election wasn't in the country's best interests.

I'd hope that there are still enough members of the Parliamentary Labour Party that neither of those are a goer.

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Boffin

Why?

I'm at a loss to understand what threat this stupid idea is intended to resolve.

The 10% of the population without clear fingerprints will have to be treated as exceptions somehow, which is going to reduce the flow of people through the airport to a trickle.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Where to go? re Canada

Traditionally, the government of Canada has been interested mainly in lining the pockets of the party in power and their henchmen and hangers-on. Governing the country runs a distant second. Hence we have a lot of laws on the books that are really just window dressing.

The net effect is a rather lazy, good-for-nothing, laissez-faire anarchy where no one gets very excited about much of anything at all. Generally speaking, a pleasant way of life, where true excitement is, as in Victorian times, discovering that another strawberry ripened overnight.

But not all is parka-clad doziness. Reading between the lines of decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada, I conclude that the justices of the court are very slowly inching their way toward a legal doctrine that any law without a *compelling* public interest at stake is ultra vires. I anticipate that sooner or later, the SC of Canada will hold that laws against recreational drugs are an unwarranted erosion of the right to get looped however you please.

It's already a good place to live if you like to smoke the evil weed, btw. You ain't smoked nothin' 'til your fingertips start to tingle after inhalation.

Such is life in the howling frozen wastes of the great white north.

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Dead Vulture

stinking sinking ship

"...I'm out May next year, hopefully I'll slip under the wire..."

"...I'm outta here in less than 60 days..."

"...Hmph, I was planning for job-related reasons on waiting until mid-2011 before emigrating, but I may have to bring it forward..."

"...88 days left in blighty for me. Its been a long time planning but will soon be bidding farewell...."

got any room for a passenger? - i'll chip in for petrol money!

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