Impact assessment: Home Office biometrics (HOB) programme privacy impact assessments

Home Office Building - London - by .Martin. via Flickr

Impact assessment: Home Office biometrics (HOB) programme privacy impact assessments

The current HOB programme is focused on maximising the public safety benefits of fingerprints, DNA and facial matching.

The HOB programme will transform the existing siloed biometrics capabilities into a technically converged, but commercially disaggregated, strategic biometrics capability. This new capability will be delivered through a number of projects.

HOB made a commitment under the Data Protection Act 1998 to undertake a programme privacy impact assessment (PIA), consisting of a suite of individual PIAs for each project as well as an overarching programme-level PIA. The documents published are those that have been completed and approved under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Now that the Data Protection Act 2018 has come into force, the HOB programme PIA and existing project PIAs will be reviewed on a rolling schedule against the new data protection principles. Any new developments and projects will be assessed using the data protection impact assessment DPIA template.

The HOB programme recognises:

  • the importance of balancing public safety with individual privacy
  • that it is essential that the public have confidence that personal information contained in biometric systems will be properly protected, and handled in accordance with the law
  • that there are significant ethical issues in the collection and use of biometric information – a HOB ethics working group is in place to monitor the progress of the programme and to review individual project impacts assessments

We have also published a Home Office Biometrics Strategy setting out how the Home Office and its partners currently use biometric data and how we will approach all future developments.