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UK agency opens final round of challenge to solve biometric data privacy puzzles

UK agency opens final round of challenge to solve biometric data privacy puzzles

The UK government has opened a final competition for grant money to be used on biometric and other digital information projects.

Information Commission officials said they are hoping to stimulate independent research about data protection leading to outcomes that enhance personal privacy.

This round, fourth in a series, will award grants of £20,000 (US$27,900) to £100,000 ($139,000). Applications are due March 11.

Commission officials illustrated the kind of biometrics results they are seeking. They said ethical and accountable use cases in public or private sectors. Another idea would be determining the long-term effects that COVID-19 surveillance will have on public sentiment.

The winning applications will address at least one of six strategic areas identified in an Information Rights Strategic Plan put out by the Information Commissioner’s Office. They are surveillance technology; datafication of homeworking; digital identity; smart cities, AI, big data and smart cities; and data protection for demographic groups at risk of experiencing inequality including vulnerable adults and children.

The three previous rounds have supported work showing that comparatively few data points are required in order to identify individuals in data sets that are supposed to be anonymized. Another made the case that children’s social media accounts should get routinely erased once they turn 18 years old.

The ICO also performed a review of the use of biometric data for research by Onfido in late-2020, finding the process was respectful of human rights, fairness and transparency.

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