FB pixel

UK Biometrics and Surveillance Commissioner submits damning report as job extended

UK Biometrics and Surveillance Commissioner submits damning report as job extended

The UK government does not have a plan for oversight of biometrics and surveillance once the Office for the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner (OBSCC) is ended by the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.

The government has extended Fraser Sampson in his role, beyond his tenure due to end on 28 February:

The announcement came minutes after the Independent Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner shared the 107-page annual report he had just filed to the new Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.

Much of its content is based on the changes and uncertainties around surveillance and biometrics.

First and final report?

This is Sampson’s first combined annual report, merging his biometrics and surveillance roles. It could also be his last, though the news of his role extension makes this unclear.

Fraser Sampson considers the impact of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which was quietly introduced to and had its first reading in Parliament at the end of the summer sitting in July 2022 while the government was in full meltdown (see the dedicated Wikipedia entry: July 2022 United Kingdom government crisis).

The Bill seeks to transfer Sampson’s roles to the Information Commissioner for surveillance and the Investigatory Powers Commissioner for biometrics. The role of Information Commissioner will also be axed, as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) takes it on.

Sampson points out how the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill will remove the duty of the Secretary of State (Home Secretary) to publish a Surveillance Camera Code of Practice and that his own functions and role will be abolished. “I note en passant that the future regulation of and support for the lawful and accountable exploitation of new surveillance technology by the police remains undecided.”

“The system empowering chief police officers and others to make National Security Determinations (NSD) for the retention of biometric material continues to work effectively and the large backlog of biometric material shared with the UK by other jurisdictions has now been finalised,” writes Sampson of his biometrics duties.

“While there remain basic shortcomings in the software used to make NSDs, and I remain concerned about the variation in the standard of NSDs, the transfer of functions to the IPC (subject to the will of Parliament) would offer an opportunity to address this.”

Facial recognition technology and AI are merging his roles in the real world, with biometric surveillance equipment whose “potential for improving police efficiency and effectiveness cannot be overstated.” It seems imaginations may be running even further ahead.

“There remains a clear gap between how facial recognition technology is being used and how it is perceived as being used. In this respect I echo the view of others in recognising the need for legislation and guidance to provide greater certainty and accountability in this area.”

Sampson recalls that Surveillance Camera Code of Practice recently passed by Parliament is the only legal instrument to “expressly to acknowledge that Live Facial Recognition has a legitimate role in policing… While there are, in my view, key omissions around cyber security and ethical considerations, I believe the contribution of this legislative instrument is borne out by the certification schemes that my office has in place and by the absence of challenge that those organisations adopting it have encountered over the past decade.”

Article Topics

 |   |   |   |   |   |   | 

Latest Biometrics News


UK gov’t introduces new digital identity verification services bill

The UK government has announced a coming identity verification services bill that will support digital ID products and services from…


EES launch postponed to November, EU’s biometric border app may still not be ready

A smartphone app designed to streamline queues for the EU’s upcoming border checks will not be available in time for…


US government transitions Veteran’s Affairs, IRS to Login.gov or ID.me

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says it will implement a more streamlined login process for veterans to access…


Data breach raises questions about Fractal ID’s decentralized identity architecture

A data breach at decentralized digital identity verification provider Fractal ID has exposed the ID documents and facial images of…


Physical IDs no longer mandatory in Azerbaijan, where 65% use digital identity

Physical and digital IDs have reached parity in Azerbaijan, where the government has announced that identity information provided through the…


Recfaces argues biometric data privacy rule carries Olympics security risk

RecFaces is calling for facial recognition technology (FRT) to be used as a key security measure to protect critical infrastructure…


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Read This Week

Featured Company

Biometrics Insight, Opinion

Digital ID In-Depth

Biometrics White Papers

Biometrics Events