Legislation passed in the UK has been making waves on social media as it allows for the retention of biometrics due to a reduction of resources during the COVID19 pandemic. This is specifically in regard to fingerprints and DNA profiles, to be retained until May 2021 for national security purposes.
To be clear, this applies to biometrics data that had been obtained or is obtained through normal collection methods. This is not official retention of data from the COVID19 testing process.
This is to provide law enforcement the time to evaluate the data and determine if it meets retention criteria under national security measures. If so, the data will be kept, if not then it will be discarded at the expiration date.
Reuters has attempted to refute the claims about this information by reporting:
A Facebook post with over 890 shares as of September 16 claims that COVID-19 tests in the UK are part of a conspiracy to harvest people’s biometric data. This is not true.
The report goes on to explain why the data was being retained, and denounce the connection between COVID19 testing itself and the records retained. However, fact checking has offered nothing to those who mistrust government practices.
Remember, it was less than a decade ago that Edward Snowden exposed the abuse of data collection by western governments, including the NSA in the United States as well as the GCHQ in the United Kingdom. These measures were also exploited in the name of national security and counter terrorism, so it is no surprise that the people are less than trusting of government intentions with their most private information.
Furthermore, the UK is no stranger to allegation of storing biometrics that have been illegally obtained. Numerous reports of the NHS creating a DNA database have exposed hospitals compliance by taking biometrics of new born babies for government retention.
Governments have done nothing to restore faith and ethics in the public eye. It is no surprise that mistrust may be irreversible at this point.