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Secret biometric ‘migrant database’ in UK has privacy advocates uneasy

Secret biometric ‘migrant database’ in UK has privacy advocates uneasy

A UK publication alleges that a unit in the national government has built a secret biometrics database with information on 650 million people including young children. It appears that the database is aimed at immigrants.

Editors of the British version of Wired, a U.S. technology publication, report that they have seen government documents requested by Privacy International that describe the database. It reportedly records people’s biometric data, ethnicity, immigration status, criminal record, nationality.

The unit in question, Data Services & Analytics, is part of the government’s Home Office, which executes on immigration, crime, fire, police, counterterrorism and drug policies.

According to Wired, employees of the unit create decision-making tools and prepares analyses for the Home Office based on collected data.

It took a Freedom of Information application by Privacy to get a bare glimpse of what Data Services does and how it operates. A government document published last year stated that the unit collects information from more than 30 business data providers such as Dunn and Bradstreet. Government sources include immigration and border operations, and police and intelligence gathering.

The lack of transparency in what is happening within the unit has riled some as much as what could be done with such a large biometric database.

Home Office has also inspired concern with its biometric programs at various times in the recent past.

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