UK government considering options for regulating biometrics use

UK government considering options for regulating biometrics use

UK Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes says the government is considering options for regulating the use of facial recognition and other biometric technologies, PublicTechnology.net reports.

Nokes was responding to a written question from Change UK MP Luciana Berger, and said that the government plans to “develop options to simplify and extend governance and oversight of biometrics across the Home Office sector” soon, in accordance with the Home Office Biometrics Strategy published last year. Biometrics Commissioner criticized the document when it was released for not proposing legislation to put rules for and oversight of biometrics use. The government now plans to identify options, assess them, and then move on to introducing legislation, according to Nokes.

“We are currently considering options for review,” PublicTechnology.net reports she said. “The review will also look at other measures that can be taken to improve governance and use of biometrics in advance of possible legislation.”

Berger also asked about the government’s position on facial recognition at the border in light of the recent announcement that Heathrow Airport will implement the technology for services from curb to gate in what has been called “the biggest single deployment of biometric technology in the world.”

Minister of State for Transport Jesse Norman responded that Heathrow’s deployment is a commercial decision, and says that the government does not require facial biometrics for security checks.

“Some airports are planning to introduce biometric technology which they hope will assist the passenger journey through their airports,” Norman added. “This use of biometrics will not change the required security checks. The Department [for Transport] regularly discusses and reviews airport security with all regulated UK airports.”

In the absence of specific regulation, UK government agency use of biometrics has a somewhat mixed record, with the country’s Information Commissioner’s Office recently ordering its tax authority to conduct what may be the largest ever deletion of biometric data to comply with GDPR.

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