Members of Scottish Parliament demand more authority, power for Biometrics Commissioner

Members of Scottish Parliament demand more authority, power for Biometrics Commissioner

Members of Scottish Parliament are pushing for the Scottish biometrics commissioner to be given more authority and responsibilities than those currently included in the Scottish Government’s bill, writes UK Authority.

In September, rights advocacy groups Open Rights Group, Amnesty International Scotland and Big Brother Watch called on Scotland’s government to expand the scope of the proposed biometrics commissioner position.

“As technology advances at lightning pace and ever more information becomes available to the police, the need for this Commissioner to ensure that public and human rights concerns are kept to the fore becomes ever more pressing,” said Convenor of the committee Margaret Mitchell MSP.

“To ensure the commissioner has the necessary teeth and oversight to protect privacy effectively, the committee wants to see stronger enforcement powers and other policing bodies added to commissioner’s remit before their office is created. The committee also wants the principles of protecting human rights, privacy, and delivering community safety to be enshrined in the bill, and to underpin any use of biometric data by police.”

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is backing up the formation of a commission and a code of practice for the use of biometrics in law enforcement without compromising personal data. MSPs would like the role of the biometrics commissioner to be more flexible so the person in charge can revise rules for biometric information that is not yet taken into account by law enforcement, currently more focused on fingerprinting, voice pattern analysis and facial recognition.

MSPs are pushing for the commissioner to have clear overview of the biometric data collected and used by agencies such as British Transport Police and the National Crime Agency, but for now the bill involves management only of Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority.

The Scottish Government’s proposed code of practices aims to regulate biometric data use in law enforcement and outlines how biometrics should be treated, and even suggests deletion after a minimum period.

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