Scotland’s innovation minister called for an assembly of the four UK home nations to resolve regulation for AI technologies.

Dr Brian Plastow, Biometrics Commissioner for Policing and Criminal Justice in Scotland, has supported the proposal to manage the ‘acute ethical challenges’ surrounding the use of AI  technologies, including biometrics, which he said requires “coherent UK thinking”.

He argued in a letter to innovation minister Richard Lochhead that legislation and regulation must be implemented to underpin adoption and further transcension of use cases across sectors. He went on to suggest that users, consumers, and the private and public sectors would be dissuaded from using new technologies.

He noted that the absence of trust frameworks covering security and privacy aspects would breed more uncertified technologies in the market, making it more difficult to choose technologies that are proven to mitigate bias or privacy concerns.

“Equally, the absence of legislation, regulation, and effective independent oversight can lead to unethical experimentation. Therefore, building public confidence and trust is essential if we are to capitalise on the many benefits that AI has to offer.”

Biometrics used frequently in policing as a tool to help criminal investigations is often overlooked by the perspective of “biometric enabled mass public space surveillance”.

Meanwhile the UK government is eradicating the role of Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner for England and Wales. The EU’s AI Act is the pinnacle example of action to stamp out AI-aided biometric identification, however the European Parliament which recently spoke at Identity Week Europe noted that positive use cases must not be dampened.

Dr Brian Plastow encouraged UK-broad participation remarking: “Accordingly, I support your call for more joined-up and coherent UK thinking in this space.” Leaders that supported Scotland’s vision to become a leader in the development of AI are looking to unify the UK’s relaxed regulations to meet Scotland’s standards.

Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead also promised that Scotland would shake up AI strategy to keep up with the advancing changes in AI.

“Therefore I’m also commissioning the Scottish AI Alliance to lead an independent review setting out what Scotland needs to do now, to maximise the benefits of AI, while we control the risks at the same time”, he said.

In 2022, stricter rules were imposed in Scotland to govern the police’s power to use facial recognition technologies, deemed “invasive” by some critics, and set out standards over how biometric data can be acquired, held, used to aid criminal investigations. The Commission was appointed to prepare the statutory Code of Practice, which took effect on 16 November, 2022.

Scotland was the first country in the world to have a national code of practice.

Legislators in Ireland plan to introduce a standalone bill governing the use of facial recognition by its police force by 2024.