A coalition of civil liberties organizations, data protection advocates, and academics has penned an open letter expressing concerns over the UK’s involvement in cross-border biometric face searches under the proposed expansion of the Prüm system, known as Prüm II. The letter, addressed to the UK Parliament, underscores the need for a democratic debate on the matter to ensure the protection of citizens’ privacy and civil liberties.
The Prüm system, a multinational initiative within the European Union, facilitates the exchange of DNA, fingerprint, and vehicle registration data among participating countries to aid in criminal investigations. The proposed Prüm II expansion aims to include biometric face data in the cross-border exchanges, potentially enabling real-time facial recognition searches across national databases.
The open letter, published on Statewatch’s website, highlights the serious implications this expansion could have on privacy and data protection. It emphasizes the need for a robust democratic debate in the UK Parliament to thoroughly assess the benefits and risks associated with participating in Prüm II. The letter also points to the lack of public and parliamentary scrutiny so far regarding the UK’s involvement in international police facial recognition systems.
The coalition stresses the potential for misuse and errors associated with facial recognition technology, especially when deployed on an international scale. Furthermore, the letter calls for transparency, accountability, and proper regulatory frameworks to ensure that the use of biometric data aligns with fundamental rights and data protection principles.
Concerns also extend to the scope of data sharing, the accuracy of facial recognition technology, and the potential for discriminatory practices, particularly against minority and marginalized communities. The letter calls for a comprehensive review of the UK’s participation in Prüm II, urging Parliament to consider the broader societal and ethical implications of cross-border biometric data exchanges.
This call for scrutiny comes amidst a global dialogue on the responsible use of facial recognition technology and the balance between public safety and individual privacy. The UK Parliament’s stance and subsequent actions on this matter could set a precedent for other nations contemplating participation in international biometric data sharing initiatives like Prüm II.
As the UK navigates its post-Brexit relationship with the EU, the discussion surrounding its involvement in Prüm II underscores the broader questions of cross-border cooperation and data privacy in the digital age.
Notable signatories to the open letter include Big Brother Watch, the European Digital Rights Initiative, the Open Rights Group, and the Police Science Institute, among others
October 31, 2023 – by the FindBiometrics Editorial Team