UK planning to consolidate biometric databases, consider expanding Surveillance Camera Code application

The UK’s Home Office is planning to consolidate its IDENT 1 and IABS biometric databases into one central platform for fingerprint, DNA, and facial image data by spring of 2019, UKAuthority reports.

The contracts for IDENT 1 and the Asylum Biometric System (IABS) expire in March and April of next year, and rather than renew them, they will be combined as part of the Home Office Biometric (HOB) Programme. A previously posted information notice suggests the new contract could run from six to ten years, and cost £198 million to £308 million, and UKAuthority reports the Home Office has begun testing the market for single service management capability.

The change would require migrating the systems from the distributed deployment architecture they use now to a public cloud host and two data centers. Law enforcement database IDENT 1 is currently maintained by Northrup Grumman, while IABS is managed by IBM.

Commissioner calls for “common sense” application of Surveillance Camera Code

The government’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, has called on the government to bring major surveillance camera deployments such as the one used by Transport for London to be included in the Surveillance Camera Code, which is currently only required for local government systems, in his fourth annual report (PDF).

Porter praised organizations voluntarily adopting the guidance, including Marks & Spencer and Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, but expressed disappointment in those that chose not to do so, saying it was “naïve and short-sighted,” and that consistent application of the standards of surveillance camera operation would deliver the improvement intended by parliament.

“The case for a wider inclusion of organisations to be bound by a legal duty to have regard to the SC Code is overwhelming in my view,” Porter writes.

Porter also expressed concern at the three percent error rate of the Automatic Number Plate Regulation (ANPR) system, and called on the Home Office to provide clarity over roles and responsibilities by releasing its Biometric Strategy.

Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo responded to the report by commenting that some organizations are avoiding oversight by the Commissioner and urging him to take more action against the spread of surveillance systems.

“It is an outrage that police forces across the UK are using facial recognition in public spaces – effectively biometric checkpoints – in the absence of any clear legal basis or public consent,” Carlo said, according to The Register.

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