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Academic research into biometrics included in Scottish Parliament investigation of policing

Academic research into biometrics included in Scottish Parliament investigation of policing

A criminologist from Northumbria University researching how biometric technologies are used in law enforcement and their impact on individuals has testified before a Scottish Parliamentary committee, the university announced.

In her research, Dr. Diana Miranda analyzes concerns of the technology possibly being ineffective, unreliable and not neutral, when accuracy and reliability are critical in AI-powered policing technologies.

Her empirical research and findings on body-worn cameras were included as evidence in an investigation of how facial recognition is used, conducted by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing. The Sub-Committee is investigating if the technology is used in an ethical and transparent way in police matters.

In 2016 Police Scotland revealed its Police 2026 strategy which includes the intention to start using facial recognition in daily operations. For now, the institution is using retrospective facial technology which means it uploads images to the police database and use the facial search feature.

“There is an urgent need for reflection on the potential social harms that emerge from the use of live facial recognition by law enforcement,” Dr. Miranda said. “Such reflection demands critical, empirical investigation that explores the impacts of using this technology on our societies. It is vital that we listen to different voices, namely different members of our community and policing professionals. Hopefully my research findings will reveal different concerns raised by front-line police officers. In particular, how they questioned if this technology is really needed and some of the implications of using it from an operational perspective.”

Following a recommendation received in 2018, Scottish Parliament wants to assign an independent commissioner for biometrics to improve the handling of biometric data by police and ensure that investigations are lawfully carried out.

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