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Government begins consultation on police use of phone data

19/05/22
Kit Malthouse
Image source: Chris McAndrew CC BY 3.0

The Government has launched a consultation on a draft code of practice for the extraction of information from electronic devices.

It said the consultation, open until 12 July, is aimed at ensuring the victims of crime are not deterred from reporting offences or supporting investigations due to fears of intrusive demands for their personal data.

This follows controversy over the practice of some police forces of asking rape victims to hand over personal data from their mobile phones, and criticism from the Information Commissioner’s Office in a report saying there are inconsistencies and questionable practices in how it is done.

Key elements of the draft code include provisions for a consistent approach to requesting information, with an emphasis on respect for privacy, and that criminal and civil courts could take into account any failure to act in accordance with it.

Necessary and proportionate

Announcing the consultation to Parliament, Minister for Crime and Policing Kit Malthouse MP (pictured) said: “This code of practice will be a vital tool in ensuring that all use of these powers is lawful and that the powers are used only where it is necessary and proportionate.

“The draft code makes it clear that the powers must only be used as a last resort. This will ensure that all those who are asked to voluntarily provide their devices and give agreement to the extraction of information, are given all the necessary information to enable them to make the decision that is right for them.”

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