Scottish Independent Advisory Group recommends oversight measures for police biometrics system

A Scottish Independent Advisory Group on Biometric Data has made a series of recommendations regarding the use of biometrics by Police Scotland, including a review of the legal rules of data retention, Scottish Legal News reports.

The group was established last year by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, and is chaired by solicitor advocate John Scott QC. It examined the collection, retention, use, and disposal of biometric data, including DNA and photographic images, and recommended the creation of a new code of practice to govern biometric data. The group also recommended the establishment of an independent Scottish Biometrics Commissioner to monitor compliance with the code of practice, as well as encouraging a national debate to improve the public’s understanding of biometrics, and therefore its confidence in the technology.

Matheson noted that while an independent HM Inspector report in 2016 found Police Scotland’s use of biometrics reasonable, it also called for improved oversight.

“Biometric technologies which draw on our personal characteristics are becoming an ever greater part of all our lives,” said Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP. “They are emerging at an incredible rate but we need to ensure our laws keep up and that people’s rights aren’t infringed. That is why we need regulate the use of existing technologies and future proof them to cover those systems that won’t have even been invented yet.”

McArthur also said that it has taken too long for the Scottish government to reach this point in establishing the necessary oversight.

The UK Home Office said last month that its biometrics strategy will be published in June, six years after it was due.

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