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Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group

Volume 654: debated on Tuesday 12 February 2019

My noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) has today made the following written ministerial statement:

On 20 July 2017, the Home Secretary extended the remit of the National DNA Database Ethics Group (NDNADEG) to cover the ethical issues associated with all forensic identification techniques and renamed the group as the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG).

To support the Home Office’s strategic approach to data, and to build public trust, it has been agreed to extend the remit of the BFEG further. The group will now also be asked to consider strategic issues relating to the use of large and complex data sets by the Home Office. This will include providing independent oversight of the data ethics governance framework established to ensure balanced consideration of the use of data within the Home Office.

The group will act within the legal framework of the Department on an advisory basis. It will not be in the remit of the group to consider whether the Department has complied with the relevant laws, nor will the Department disclose personal data to the group to enable it to discharge its responsibilities.

The BFEG will continue to consider the ethical aspects of:

the application and operation of technologies which produce biometric and forensic data and identifiers;

ethical issues relating to scientific services provided to the police service and other public bodies within the criminal justice system;

applications for research involving access to biometric or forensic data; and

matters relating to the management, operation and use of biometric or forensic data.