Greens win greater protections for biometric data

Scottish Greens Justice Spokesperson John Finnie MSP today secured support for an amendment to the Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Bill which adds greater protections for data held by the police.

The Bill creates the position of Biometrics Commissioner who will provide independent oversight of police use of biometric data, including by creating a code of practice.

The original drafting of the Bill would have required police simply to “have regard” to the code of practice but following Mr Finnie’s amendment they will now be required to “comply” with the code.

Biometrics is a broad category which includes data such as fingerprints and DNA which have been used by police for years, as well as emerging technology such as facial recognition software.

John Finnie MSP said:

“I am delighted to have won support for my amendment which will help ensure that extremely sensitive data is handled with the utmost care. Obviously there are practical benefits to police use of biometrics but that must be carefully balanced with individuals rights. My amendment will ensure that the independent oversight provided by the new Commissioner will be rigorous and enforceable. There is no room for ambiguity on such an important subject.”