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Ada Lovelace Institute to review governance of biometric data

Categories Biometrics News  |  Trade Notes
Ada Lovelace Institute to review governance of biometric data

The Ada Lovelace Institute has selected Matthew Ryder to head up an independent review of the governance of biometric data, such as facial characteristics, fingerprints, iris prints and DNA, as well as identify methods to protect individuals from data misuse.

Ryder is a senior QC at Matrix Chambers and former Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement. His legal expertise includes human rights, quality and diversity, crime, policing and surveillance, and technology. To conduct the review, Ryder will hire and supervise two researchers or junior barristers for legal research, analyze evidence and write the report.

Some of the topics the independent review will want to investigate are the current regulatory framework for administering biometric data use and retention in the public and private sector, how human rights are protected considering the rapid biometric tech advancement, whether the current framework is enough for biometric tech to be effectively used by police and public authorities, and to identify key areas of regulatory reform so that biometric data can be used with respect to human rights and in the public’s interest.

Ryder and his team will have to consider how biometric data is currently used by police and the public and private sectors. They will have to determine if definitions of biometric data are sufficient and identify additional protection to ensure people with an ethnic minority background are not disadvantaged by regulation of biometric data.

“The regulatory and policy framework for governing the use of biometric data has been outpaced by advances in the technologies that enable such data to be used, whether by private companies or public bodies. Reform is both necessary and urgent, and needs to be informed by independent, impartial and evidence-led analysis,” explained Carly Kind, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute.

“Matthew’s extensive legal experience in technology, human rights and national security make him ideally placed to lead this independent review, which we hope will result in recommendations for ensuring that biometric data is governed consistently with human rights, the public interest and public trust.”

On three different occasions, Ryder will consult with a number of specialists in law, ethics, technology, criminology, genetics and data protection.

The group of independent advisors consists in Anneke Lucassen, Professor of Clinical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Lillian Edwards, Chair of Law, Innovation and Society, Newcastle Law School, Marion Oswald, School of Law, Northumbria University, Edgar Whitley, Associate Professor of Information Management, LSE, Pamela Ugwudike, Associate Professor of Criminology, University of Southampton, Renate Samson, Open Data Institute, and Matthew Rice, Open Rights Group, Scotland Director.

Biometric data collection technologies have grown in popularity, especially among law enforcement units and public authorities, but the constant controversy and public protests clouding the technology raise awareness over the importance of regulation. The lack of legal guidelines has caught the industry and consumers off guard, leading to legal actions and protests from civil liberties and privacy advocates.

Ryder will take it upon himself to review regulatory gaps and recommend improvements to guarantee biometric data practices respect human right and are aligned with public interest and trust.

“This is a really important initiative, in an incredibly contested area of law,” said Matthew Ryder QC. “Understanding data rights is becoming essential for lawyers, and I look forward to the challenge of bringing greater scrutiny and clarity to a complex ecosystem of benefits and harms.”

The review covers two public evidence sessions in spring 2020, which will take place at the same time with the Citizens’ Biometric Council which will analyze the ethical and social issues associated with biometric technology. The review will include feedback from the Scottish Parliament’s consultation on biometric data oversight, as well as consider the Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Bill.

The final report and recommendations will be published in October 2020.

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