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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
15 February 2023
Lib Dems call for role of biometrics commissioner to be expanded

Facial recognition cameras

Lib Dems call for role of biometrics commissioner to be expanded

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have called for the role of the biometrics commissioner to be expanded.  

Justice spokesperson Liam McArthur believes that all forms of biometric data, such as facial recognition technology used in schools, shops, supermarkets and other public places, should be added to the commissioner’s oversight.  

However, in response to a parliamentary question from McArthur, justice secretary Keith Brown said there are no plans for any expansion to take place, leaving many areas which collect biometric data outside the commissioner’s remit.  

In November last year, Scotland became the first country to implement a Code of Practice (CoP) that governs the use of biometric data and DNA in the criminal justice system. It sets out how biometric data can be acquired, retained, used and destroyed for criminal justice and policing purposes. It also includes a complaints mechanism and powers of enforcement to ensure compliance.  

McArthur said: “Scottish Liberal Democrats fought tooth and nail for recognition that the law on biometrics was outdated in the face of the full force of modern technology.  

"Biometric technologies which draw on our personal characteristics are becoming an ever-greater part of all our lives. They are emerging at an incredible rate but we need to ensure our laws keep up and that people's rights aren't infringed. That is why we need to regulate the use of existing technologies and future-proof them to cover those systems that won't have even been invented yet. These technologies are not restricted to the police and the criminal justice system so why is the biometrics commissioner?  

“Keith Brown may be in denial about the changing pace of technology, but we are not. That’s why Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to press the government to ensure that proper safeguards are in place and that all our biometric data is kept and used appropriately.”

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