Public ethics body to examine Home Office data use

Written by Sam Trendall on 15 February 2019 in News
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BFEG asked to provide oversight of department’s use of ‘large and complex data sets’

 Credit: Steve Cadman/CC BY-SA 2.0

A public ethics body has been asked to examine possible ethical issues related to the Home Office’s use of “large and complex data sets”.

The Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group – a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Home Office – is to provide the department with “independent oversight” of its Data Ethics Governance Framework. The aim of assessing the framework, which was created “to ensure balanced consideration of the use of data within the Home Office”, is to boost the public’s confidence in how the department utilises data.


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The BFEG will be examining the use of technologies used to create biometric and forensic identification data, as well as assessing “ethical issues relating to scientific services” provided by the department to police forces and other criminal-justice organisations. The ethics body will also look at how data is used by the Home Office in research and, and how the use of biometric and forensic data is managed.

BFEG chair Chris Hughes said: “With ever-increasing volumes of data and the implementation of new data protection legislation it’s more appropriate than ever to expand the BFEG remit to consider large and complex data sets. The expansion will build on the committee’s existing work and will work to ensure that the use of an individual’s personal data is legitimate and proportionate, contributing to justified trust in the Home Office.”

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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