Scottish ‘Cyber kiosk’ fears raised in report to the United Nations

An insufficient legal framework to protect people’s rights from new biometric technologies such as facial recognition and “cyber kiosks” and the disproportionate use of strip searching women and children are among concerns about policing, prisons and access to justice raised with the United Nations (UN) in the latest report from the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

In the report released today the commission also raises concerns about protecting people’s rights, particularly following Brexit and continued proposals by the UK government to amend the Human Rights Act.

The commission says it does not believe “cyber kiosks” – desktop computers used by some Police Scotland officers to override passwords and gather data from mobile phones or laptops – complies with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

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It also says there are no adequate safeguards in place to provide robust safeguards.

Concerns have been raised about the impact on mobile technology.

Judith Robertson, chair of the commission, said there were a number of “serious gaps” in how rights were implemented in Scotland.

“Civil and political rights include rights like privacy, freedom from inhumane treatment by the state and access to justice.

“Everyone has these rights, as set out in international human rights treaties.

“In reality, as our latest comprehensive assessment shows, there are some serious gaps in how some of these rights are currently upheld in Scotland.

“We remain concerned police use of new technologies such as ‘cyber kiosks’ and facial recognition is outstripping the adequate protection for people’s rights required from our legal frameworks and oversight mechanisms.

Ms Robertson added that lack of access to legal aid was an issue.

“People’s access to justice more broadly continues to be undermined by the impact of reduced legal aid and a lack of access to independent advocacy.

“We have seen some progress in some areas since our last report to the UN on civil and political rights in 2015. That is welcome.

“We would now like to see the Scottish Government address the concerns raised in this latest report with a detailed set of commitments.

“This would help ensure Scotland becomes a place where everyone’s rights are realised in full.”