UK combines surveillance, biometrics commissions but there are questions
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says less is more when it comes to regulating biometrics and surveillance camera activity, but not everyone is so sure.
The government is combining two the roles of biometrics and surveillance camera commissioners. The current commissioners have objected to the move, saying that their work is largely distinct from each other’s and two voluminous for one person.
Government officials have said that existing and emerging regulatory issues involving police use of automated face scanning are merging, making the change mandatory.
The Ada Lovelace Institute, a UK research and advocacy nonprofit, has issued a statement ahead of the naming of the new commissioner asking if the move will streamline oversight or undermine it.
The Lovelace Institute focuses on the ethical and safe deployment of AI.
In July, the government said it would combine the offices of Biometric Commissioner and Surveillance Camera Commissioner. The new office will be Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner.
The name of a new commissioner is expected to be announced soon.
In a statement, institute leaders said that the government made a power grab involving biometric data when it passed the Coronavirus Act 2020. The government gave itself more time to hold fingerprints and DNA profiles, though the Biometrics Commissioner said in a review that the move was necessary.
“The need for robust scrutiny goes hand in hand with the widening of such powers,” reads the institute’s statement.