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UK Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group updates principles to emphasize rights and non-discrimination

UK Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group updates principles to emphasize rights and non-discrimination

The UK government’s Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG) has updated the ethical principles it released in 2018 to include specific reference to human rights and equality legislation, emphasizing the need to prevent discrimination in biometric and forensic processes.

BFEG member Dr. Adil Akram proposed the update to add an explicit statement that the definition of ‘protected characteristics’ in the Equality Act of 2010 be used to protect people and groups from procedures that target or selectively disadvantage them. The update also highlights the need for procedures to comply with the Human Rights Act of 1998 without discrimination.

The December 2020 update to the principles changes Principle 2 from “procedures should be used to advance justice” to “procedures should seek to respect the dignity of individuals and groups.”

The third governing principle, which had read “procedures should respect the human rights of individuals and groups,” is amended to explicitly mention the Equality Act and its protected characteristics. Principle 4 is changed from “procedures should respect the dignity of all individuals” to reference the Human Rights Act, but also to take in what was formerly Principle 5, referring to the protection of “private and family life.”

The questions for organizations to ask themselves attached in the document’s annex are also expanded to address the new passages in the principles.

The group says the changes show its prioritization of people discriminated against and disadvantaged in its considerations.

The BFEG released its first annual report just over a year ago.

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