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Counter-terrorism police to be given more powers to retain biometrics

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Counter-terrorism police will be given the right to hold onto the biometrics of individuals regarded as a posing a potential threat, under proposed changes in data protection laws.

The UK Government has announced the plan as one of a number of amendments to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill aimed at bolstering national security and preventing fraud.

The change in the law on biometrics would enable counter-terrorism officers to retain biometric data on a person as long as an INTERPOL notice is in force, matching the process with the international police organisation’s own retention rules.

In addition, in cases where an individual has a conviction in a foreign court, their biometrics will be retained indefinitely in the same way as is already possible for people with UK convictions. The announcement said this is particularly important where foreign nationals may have existing convictions for serious offences including those related to terrorism.

Protect the public

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “My priority is to continue cutting crime and ensuring the public is protected from security threats. Law enforcement and our security partners must have access to the best possible tools and data, including biometrics, to continue to keep us safe.

“This bill will improve the efficiency of data protection for our security and policing partners, encouraging better use of personal information and ensuring appropriate safeguards for privacy.”

Amendments to the bill will be considered in Parliament next week.

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