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ICO report: mobile phone data extraction by police must improve

30 June 2020

The ICO has recently published an interesting report setting out its findings on the use of mobile phone extraction (MPE) by police forces when carrying out criminal investigations in England and Wales.

In particular, the ICO recognised that: “this practice, involving some of our most sensitive personal information, can be highly intrusive into individuals’ private lives and has the potential to impact significant numbers of people not involved in the investigation.”

Whilst this is not a surprising observation for criminal and privacy lawyers, the report provides useful guidance and recommendations about improvements which the ICO has said should be implemented as soon as possible.

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, appreciated however, that the time frame for change will be “longer than usual” due to the “challenges flowing from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Particular recommendations include having data protection impact assessments in place for all MPE investigations as well as the introduction of a new code of practice to improve MPE practices. Until these changes are implemented other helpful steps can still be taken to protect individual’s privacy, data and reputation both at the start and during an investigation.

Louise Prince, senior associate in the Firm’s Reputation Protection and Privacy team, said: “The report is significant because it acknowledges that changes need to be made to improve privacy and data protection as well as to restore public confidence.”

You can read further information on this issue here.

If you would like advice on data protection, privacy and reputation protection issues, please contact one of our lawyers here.

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