“Legislators haven’t yet drawn up the standards to be upheld by the new Biometrics Commissioner, but it’s clear that the official will be primarily concerned with the collection and handling of biometric data.”
Ministers of the Scottish Parliament (referred to in the country as “MSPs”) have unanimously approved a bill to create a Biometrics Commissioner in the government.
The vote comes after the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee officially backed the idea in December. The new Biometrics Commissioner will oversee Police Scotland, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, and the Scottish Police Authority.
Legislators haven’t yet drawn up the standards to be upheld by the new Biometrics Commissioner, but it’s clear that the official will be primarily concerned with the collection and handling of biometric data. There are also plans to establish a complaints procedure for citizens.
It’s the latest sign of a growing push for regulation concerning biometrics around the world, with controversy over police use of facial recognition having led to serious restrictions of the technology in some places.
In establishing the role of Biometrics Commissioner, Scotland’s authorities seem to be taking a nuanced approach. As Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf explained, “The role of biometrics is increasingly important in how crime is investigated, detected and prosecuted in Scotland. This legislation will ensure quality and consistency in how biometric data is collected, used, retained and destroyed by policing bodies.”
The Biometrics Commissioner will be accountable to Scottish Parliament, and the role will face review every five years to ensure it remains up to date with respect to advances in biometric technology.
March 10, 2020 – by Alex Perala