Gov backtracks on plans to swap powers of biometrics commissioner

The government has made a U-turn on plans to move several powers of the biometrics and surveillance camera commissioner over to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

It had previously proposed to hand oversight of police use of DNA and fingerprints to the ICO.

Current biometrics commissioner Professor Sampson said that while decision was “sensible”, the government still needs to provide detail on what they now plan to do with these important functions.

“We now have an opportunity to come up with something really good, not only in relation to DNA and fingerprints, but also in relation to other existing and emerging biometric technology such as live facial recognition,” added the commissioner.

The government is now exploring whether the investigatory powers commissioner can take on some of the functions of the biometrics commissioner instead.

Sampson said that it makes “far more sense” to transfer these powers to the investigatory powers commissioner because he independently oversees the use of investigatory powers involving biometric material.

He explained that if parliament does decide to transfer these functions, the necessary next step would be to have a singular definition of biometrics that goes beyond DNA or fingerprints. This would include next-generation technologies like facial recognition, which he says are a “matter of growing public concern”.

“In addition, almost all the capability in this area is privately owned, requiring our private sector technology partners to demonstrate that they can be trusted in respect of their security arrangements and their ethical values,” he said. “Not only would this simplify things, it would also bring the UK into line with many other countries with whom we share biometrics for law enforcement and national security purposes.”

    Share Story:

Recent Stories