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UK biometric ethics group to consider implications of gait and voice recognition

Categories Biometrics News  |  Law Enforcement
UK biometric ethics group to consider implications of gait and voice recognition

Gait and voice biometrics are becoming more interesting to government and law enforcement agencies, prompting a need for ethical guidance, according to the annual report of a UK oversight group.

The UK Biometrics and Forensic Ethics Group’s (BFEG’s) fifth annual report notes the addition of these modalities to ongoing work in two different areas.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Home Office, Lorde Sharpe of Epsom, thanked the group for its advice on the use and retention of biometric data, and how to implement and utilize projects with large and complex datasets.

The Group also offered guidance for the Home Office Biometrics Programme on changes in regulation and enrollment.

Working and advisory sub-groups provided ongoing advice on the Home Office Biometrics program, and the retention of facial custody images. The latter should follow the ethical principles laid out in BFEG’s 2019 report on live facial recognition use by police, the Group says.

Group stakeholder engagements over 2021 and 2022 included advice to the Forensic Information Databases Service (FINDS) Strategy Board that its request “for a small number of DNA extracts to be submitted to the USA for processing” is allowable, as long as the data is anonymized and not stored by the overseas service provider. Overseas processing is necessary, the Board says, because the processing is mandated under a research project but not domestically available.

The BFEG also provided advice over the report period on a consent process for searches against a DNA database of vulnerable persons, the international data exchange policy for DNA and fingerprint biometrics, and a fairness assessment for the FaceTools ICAO image compliance checker supplied to The Digital Customer Service (DCS) by Idemia.

The report also introduces the five new members of the Group appointed between October of 2021 and January of 2022. Another internal change is the renaming of the Facial Recognition Working Group to the Biometric Recognition Technologies Working Group to reflect that its scope also includes other biometric technologies that can be applied remotely, such as gait and voice recognition.

The BFEG’s commission for 2022-2023 mandates continued work with Home Office, on complex datasets, and on biometric data retention. It also set support for policy development around the use of big data technologies by Home Office, including in the justice system, and advice on novel biometric technologies like gait and voice recognition as priorities for the coming year.

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