Professor Sampson praises the government on its decision not to hand oversight of police use of DNA and fingerprints to the ICO.
The Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner Professor Fraser Sampson has praised the government on a sensible decision not to hand oversight of police use of DNA and fingerprints to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) but warned it’s a job only half done.
The government today revealed that it had scrapped plans to move several key functions of the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s role into the hands of the powerful ICO data regulator.
The plan to move oversight of police use of biometrics appeared late last year in a major government consultation called: Data: A New Direction.
Several respondents, including Professor Sampson, told the government that, for various reasons, it was a bad idea. See OBSCC formal response to Data: A New Direction.
Today, in its formal response to that consultation (see section 5.8), the government said: In the light of this feedback and wider engagement, including with the current Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner and law enforcement partners, the government… has decided not to transfer these functions to the ICO…
Professor Sampson said:
It’s a sensible decision, as far as it goes. But the government’s response needs detail on what they plan to do now with these particular important functions. I won’t be in a position to offer any meaningful observations until they have some specifics about what will come next in terms of providing strong, principled, and independent oversight in these important areas.
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.
We are talking about technologies that, it seems to me and many others, are going to play larger and larger roles in all our lives. We need a way of keeping in step with fast-paced change in these areas in order to provide the public with the reassurance they need that this tech will be used lawfully, responsibly and according to a set of clear bright line principles that will ensure the circumstances of their use are dictated by what society agrees is acceptable and not just what technology makes possible.
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