UK biometrics chief takes aim at regulatory gaps
06 June 2018 16:12 GMT

British biometrics commissioner Paul Wiles has said lack of governance on biometrics from government leaves a "worrying vacuum".

In his annual report, Wiles wrote that the Home Office "urgently" needs to deliver guidance for the next generation of policing technologies.

He wrote that there is currently no legal guidance covering the police use of automated facial recognition to identify people in crowds and from CCTV footage, despite fears that this amounts to illegal mass surveillance.

The activities "urgently" need a legislative framework, says Professor Wiles, noting a four-year delay (by some measures five years) in the Home Office delivering guidance.

"Technical development and deployment is running ahead of legislation, which is why the Home Office's promised biometric strategy is urgently needed," Professor Wiles said.

A spokesperson for the Home Office told Sky News that the department is committed to publishing its biometrics strategy this month.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid published the commissioner's annual report for 2017 today.

It states that although police are "largely compliant" with the laws governing the retention of DNA and fingerprints, the quality of this legislation is lacking.