Police Scotland cyber kiosks 'could be unlawful'

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Image caption,
The technology gives police the ability to override passwords on mobile phones

The introduction of technology allowing the police to gather data from mobile phones or laptops looks set to be delayed following concerns its use may be unlawful.

Police Scotland has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds buying 41 "cyber kiosks" - which can override passwords - from an Israeli firm.

The plan was to deploy them around the country next month.

But concerns have been raised that using the technology could be illegal.

The digital forensic devices can rapidly search electronic devices to look for evidence, helping police at the early stage of investigations.

Right to privacy

Trials have already been undertaken in both Edinburgh and Stirling.

But the UK Information Commissioner, senior lawyers, MSPs and the Scottish Human Rights Commission all believe that giving officers the ability to bypass passwords on mobile phones to access data could be against the law.

The justice sub-committee on policing has heard significant concerns about the legal basis for the kiosks' use from both the Information Commissioner's Office and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

The concerns focus around the right to privacy, the type of personal data that can be accessed, such as biometric data, the legal basis for accessing it, and arrangements for data security.

The officer in charge of the programme said he was satisfied cyber kiosks were lawful but agreed that rolling them out across the country would be "foolhardy" until the concerns had been addressed.