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Scotland follows England and Wales in appointing biometrics commissioner


The Scottish Government plans to create a new biometrics commissioner role to oversee how Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority handle biometric data such as fingerprints, DNA samples and facial scans.

It published a bill to establish the role on 31 May. If passed by MSPs the bill will lead to a commissioner being appointed by, then reporting to, the Scottish Parliament.

The announcement confirms a plan announced in the Scottish Government’s 2018-19 programme last September, which followed the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group on the Use of Biometric Data published earlier last year.

“There is not yet a single commonly recognised set of working standards around biometrics,” said Scottish justice secretary Humza Yousaf. “The new commissioner and the code of practice will complement the work of others, including the [Scottish] information commissioner, and help maintain public confidence in how new technologies and data are being used to help keep crime down and communities safe.”

England and Wales already have a biometrics commissioner, a role created in 2013 and currently filled by Professor Paul Wiles, who was appointed in June 2016. He has been critical of police and government, last June saying that forces’ use of facial recognition technology was running ahead of the law with no specific legislation to cover it. 


Image by the Scottish Government

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