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UK Police Lack Transparency - BBW

UK Police Lack Transparency – BBW

In the report which was titled, Police Access to Digital Evidence it stated that the current system of operation lacks specific data protection laws.

Details of a report released on Monday states that the rules for how UK police seize and extract information from digital devices lack transparency and accountability. These devices include phones, cameras, and laptops. The report was released by civil liberties group, Big Brother Watch (BBW).

The group used Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to gather fresh insights into British law enforcement particularly, how agencies use data in criminal probes. During its investigation, BBW found that around 93% of the UK police force extract data from devices.

It also discovered that due to a lack of training some investigators still rely on the services of third-party firms for most of the work. In the report which was titled, Police Access to Digital Evidence it stated that the current system of operation lacks specific data protection laws. This, in turn, hinders the police’s ability to ensure the public’s understanding of what digital evidence assembly entails.

It is widely known that the analysis of phones and laptops can very often make or break a case. These devices give police investigators a peek into a suspect’s daily life including their communications and close acquaintances. According to BBW report, the laws surrounding this field in investigations remain murky as evidence extraction is done using laws pre-dated by the digital age.

In the report, it states that rather than adequately updating the existing laws the government has amended them. This has created a sketchy and rather failed framework. But it is not just the laws that are unclear. The details surrounding the acquisition, interrogation, and retention of data is also murky.

Requests during the investigation asked for records from 2013 to 2016. These records were from all 45 territorial police forces. And while all 42 confirmed the seizure and extraction of data, 32 or 71% declined to release detailed figures. This has led the organization to slam British authorities for their apparent transparency.
The report also stated that there were stark variations in training.

Some UK forces spent anywhere between £20,000 and £520,000 during the specific period to train officers to carry out forensics. The City of London police had trained only eight officers in digital examination between 2013 and 2016. A total of only 16 officers were competently able to carry out digital extractions.

In the report is also states that six police forces confirmed the use of third-party during the period. The Metropolitan Police confessed to having spent a total of £8,698,000 over a four year period on the use of third-party services to carry out digital tasks.

BBW warned that while outsourcing such tasks might seem logical, it could only take one data breach to put this practice under scrutiny.

About Ali Raza

Ali is a freelance journalist, having 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.

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