Westminster eForum

Biometrics and digital identity in the UK - security and privacy, ethics and trust, public and private sector applications, and next steps for regulation

Morning, Tuesday, 5th May 2020

Central London


This conference will consider the way forward for policy and practice in the use of biometric data by government, and the private sector and public sector in the UK.

  • The discussion takes place with increased focus on policy and practice relating to biometrics, against the background of:
  • Live facial recognition (LFR) technology figuring in current legal action, and in investigations and regulatory reviews by the Biometrics Commissioner and the ICO;
  • Recent reports that the European Commission is considering a ban of up to five years on the use of facial recognition technology in public places;
  • The recent announcement by the Metropolitan Police that it is beginning operational use of LFR in London; and
  • The Home Office’s Biometrics Strategy and its Biometrics Programme.

Areas for discussion include:

  • Oversight and regulatory frameworks for use of biometric technologies in the UK private and public sectors, including law enforcement, and the next steps for policy;
  • Latest thinking on commercial opportunities in biometrically-enabled services across sectors such as transport, finance, security and authentication, and marketing;
  • Investment and R&D into biometric technologies in the UK, as well developing and supporting the UK biometric sector to take advantage of global market growth;
  • Legal and ethical issues for commercial and other uses of biometric data, looking at data processing and protection;
  • The potential role of biometric data and authentication in supporting cyber security, and tackling fraud and identity theft, as well as the potential consequences of cyber security breaches involving biometric data.

There will be keynote contributions from:

  • Professor Paul Wiles, Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material;
  • Andy White, Director, High Profile Investigations and Intelligence, Information Commissioner’s Office;
  • Ali Shah, Head of Technology Policy, Information Commissioner’s Office; and
  • Simon Wilcox, Head of Transformation, Automation and Innovation, Heathrow Airport.

Further speakers include: Detective Chief Superintendent Ivan Balhatchet, Metropolitan Police Service; Georgina Bulkeley, NatWest; Andrew Bud, iProov; Silkie Carlo, Big Brother Watch; Hugh Milward, Microsoft UK; Professor Maja Pantic, Imperial College London and Samsung AI Research Centre; Sandra Peaston, Cifas; Sebastian Manhart, Simprints and Chris Watson, CMS.

The agenda

  • Developing governance for the use of new biometric technologies by government, the public sector, and law enforcement;
  • Developing the UK’s commercial biometrics sector - R&D and investment, ethics, and winning public trust;
  • Addressing ethical and practical concerns around biometrics and digital identity - privacy, security, and transparency;
  • Regulating the handling and use of biometric data in the UK - key priorities and next steps; and
  • Case study: deploying facial recognition technology to improve passenger experience and efficiency in an airport setting.

Engagement with policy officials at this conference

This Westminster eForum conference has attracted particularly strong interest from policymakers. It will be an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with officials who have reserved places representing: Cabinet Office; CDEI; Crown Prosecution Service; DCMS; HMRC; HMPPS; Home Office; MHCLG; Ministry of Justice and WRA.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Paul Wiles

Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material

Andy White

Director, High Profile Investigations and Intelligence, Information Commissioner’s Office

Ali Shah

Head of Technology Policy, Information Commissioner’s Office

Simon Wilcox

Head of Transformation, Automation and Innovation, Heathrow Airport


Lord Clement-Jones

Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Digital)


Georgina Bulkeley

Director of Strategy and Innovation, Personal and Business Banking, NatWest

Andrew Bud

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, iProov and Chair, MEF

Chris Watson

Partner and Global Head of Technology, Media and Communications, CMS

Silkie Carlo

Director, Big Brother Watch

Hugh Milward

Director, Corporate, External and Legal Affairs, Microsoft UK

Sebastian Manhart

Chief Operating Officer, Simprints

Professor Maja Pantic

Professor of Affective and Behavioural Computing and Head, Intelligent Behaviour Understanding Group (iBUG), Department of Computing, Imperial College London and Research Director, Samsung AI Research Centre

Sandra Peaston

Director, Research and Development, Cifas

Detective Chief Superintendent Ivan Balhatchet

Strategic Lead for Biometrics and Technology in Custody, Metropolitan Police Service