Burson-Marsteller gets secret biometrics brief

Technology giant NEC has secretly called in Burson-Marsteller to promote its ‘bio­metric solutions' to decision-makers in Westminster and Whitehall.

The Japanese-owned firm has drafted in the public aff­airs support as the Government places increasing emp­hasis on the technology as a means of tackling terrorism.

Ministers are keen to see biometric screening of passengers as they check in and out of airports - so that terrorist suspects can be identified and stopped. The Government's controversial identity card programme also relies heavily on biome­tric technology and there are plans to extend the use of bio­metric visas.

Meanwhile, last month it emerged that the United States is talking to Britain and other countries about participating in a security database to share biometric data on terrorists and criminals.

NEC's biometric solutions include fingerprint, iris and palm identification and authentication. Burson-Marsteller is believed to have landed the account earlier this month without a competitive pitch.

The agency's public affairs MD Rhoda MacDonald said she was ‘not in a position to talk' about the brief. The NEC press office failed to return numerous calls.

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