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Scottish Parliament passes bill to address police use of biometric data

Scottish Parliament passes bill to address police use of biometric data

The Scottish Parliament has approved legislation to establish a Biometrics Commissioner that will monitor how law enforcement captures, stores, uses and destroys biometric data such as fingerprints, DNA and facial images, the institution announced.

The Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Bill will make sure that law enforcement does not abuse the data and technology, and all measures are lawful and ethical. It was written based on guidance in the Independent Advisory Group’s 2018 report on the use of Biometric Data. The bill was passed unanimously, BBC reports.

The Commissioner is responsible with devising a code of practice to be used by Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner. The code will outline best practices for data collection, use and disposal.

The Commissioner will be appointed and evaluated by Parliament. The role will be reviewed every five years based on legislation and tech advancement.

A complaints procedure will be set up for citizens concerned about their data, and an independent advisory group to advise the Commissioner.

“The role of biometrics is increasingly important in how crime is investigated, detected and prosecuted in Scotland. This legislation will ensure quality and consistency in how biometric data is collected, used, retained and destroyed by policing bodies,” said Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf in a prepared statement.

“It is important that we equip Scotland’s police officers with the necessary technology to ensure they can continue to keep people safe. At the same time, it is important that the public has absolute confidence in those technological advances and how their data will be collected or retained.”

Yousaf has said the position will help public confidence in the lawful and ethical treatment of personal data, though questions about the scope of the commissioner have continued as parliament considered the bill.

The bill and associated documents can be reviewed on the Scottish Parliament website.

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