Review finds that new biometrics laws are urgently required.

Matthew Ryder, QC led an independent legal review that found new laws are needed to govern biometric technology.

Review finds that new biometrics laws are urgently required.

Matthew Ryder, QC led an independent legal review that found new laws are needed to govern biometric technology.

Biometric data can include faces, fingerprints and DNA profiles.

These technologies, such as live facial recognition and other data mining, are becoming more common.

The review revealed that the rules in England and Wales are fragmented and unclear, and have not kept pace with technological advances.

It noted that biometric technologies were used in police work almost exclusively, but are now being used by many private and public organizations, such as schools, employers, and shops.

Other tools are being developed, such as gait analysis which analyzes the distinctive characteristics of people's walking, and key-stroke analysis that examines how people type.

The Ada Lovelace Institute, who commissioned the review, also cited several examples of biometric technology being used in a separate paper:

It says that better laws and regulations would make it more difficult for such uses to be deployed.

A spokesperson for the Institute told BBC that regulators only took action after the fact. The spokesperson stated that regulators could view this as a regulatory "whack-amole", which is what we claim to be inadequate.

None of the witnesses to the review believed that the current legal framework was appropriate.

There are many laws that govern how biometric data is collected and used.

Matthew Ryder, QC, wrote the review. He stated that "the current legal system is fragmented and confused and fails to keep up with technological advances."

"We urgently require a new, ambitious legislative framework that is specific to biometrics.

"We cannot allow biometric data to spread under insufficient laws or inadequate regulation."

The institute now calls for changes, including:

A number of recommendations were also made regarding live facial recognition (LFR), where a camera system matches faces with a watch-list.

LFR has been used by many police forces, including the Metropolitan Police and South Wales Police. The latter was successfully challenged in court.

A legally binding code of police practice to govern LFR usage was recommended by the review.

Until there is one for the private sector, all public use should be stopped.

Professor Fraser Sampson, Biometrics and Surveillance camera Commissioner, echoed the report’s call for improvement. He stated that it was necessary to be complete, consistent, and cohesive.

Lady Hamwee, chair of the Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee said that "the current uncoordinated and confused arrangements are insufficient."

"Biometric technologies hold great potential.

"They require an essential component - public confidence and trust, which in turn requires sound regulation."

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told BBC that the government was committed to data protection and that our laws already contain very strict requirements regarding the retention and use of biometric data.

"We are grateful for the work of Matthew Ryder QC & Ada Lovelace Institute. We'll be reviewing the recommendations in due course."

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