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UK Home Office Biometrics Strategy draws further criticism for lack of oversight recommendations

UK Home Office Biometrics Strategy draws further criticism for lack of oversight recommendations

The UK Home Office’s Biometrics Strategy continues to draw criticism for its proposed expansion of the technology’s use, without corresponding proposals for controls and oversight.

The Strategy document proposes allowing UK border authorities to use the centralized Home Office biometric platform, for which Fujitsu won a contract in March. The UK’s Border Force, Visas & Immigration, and Immigration Enforcement currently use the Immigration and Asylum Biometrics System (IABS), while UK law enforcement uses the IDENT1 biometric system.

Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee Chair Normal Lamb said that the document fails to provide direction for future policy.

“The ‘Strategy’ seems to boil down to setting up an advisory ‘board’ to suggest policy recommendations to Government,” Lamb said, according to the Telegraph, “rather than telling us what actions the Government will take and, just as importantly, what outcomes it wants to avoid.”

Gizmodo said that the centralized database is “a nightmare scenario for many in the privacy space,” and suggested that “Home Office can essentially grant itself the right to end anonymity.”

The Home Office has faced regular recriminations from the Science and Technology Committee, the Biometrics Commissioner, privacy groups and others over delays in revealing its strategy and complying with court orders to delete certain information from its database.

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