Fraser Sampson, the UK’s outgoing Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, has left a parting comment on the state and assurances of biometric surveillance when  underpinned by “clearly defined”, “intelligible” policies, as he prepares to step down from office.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner invited Sampson to input into its consultation on a proposed code of practice for biometric data, which he has supported. During his tenureship, Sampson noted the “ever growing” capabilities of biometric surveillance systems strengthening around his policies and actions as Commissioner.

Underpinned by excellent technological capabilities, biometrics have also consolidated the Commissioner’s role in ensuring the code has a purpose that complied with by relevant authorities, including law enforcement, public and private sector.

The risks and societal concerns that biometrics pose – particularly in the areas of facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence – are more comprehensive than ” just data protection” matters, the report suggest.

“As a society, we are becoming inured to biometric surveillance, while technological developments have meant that our capability to prepare for, respond to and recover from global crises has increased beyond anything our forebears might have realistically imagined”. 

The greater certainty and assurances that exist around identification and biometric technologies, the more benefits society will be able to leverage by ensuring law enforcement pursue the right offenders and have early intervention to prevent crime.

As Commissioner, Sampson drove a systemic approach to regulation based around ‘integrity’ which will be the ongoing challenges after his post finishes. He supported crystal clear standards that encompass new technologies while minimising competing or duplicate standards, in reference to DNA.