Potentially Illegal Police Scotland Cyber Kiosk Rollout Put on Hold

Police Scotland IT systems Require £200M Update

Serious concerns that the legal basis for Police Scotland’s use of “cyber kiosks” is unlawful has delayed their roll-out. 

Police Scotland’s plan to deploy its cyber kiosks across the country has been put on hold due to worries that the technology could be abused.

Issues such as privacy rights and data security arrangements are also at the forefront of the concerns raised. The digital forensic technology, supplied by an Israeli firm, has the ability to override passwords allowing it to rapidly search electronic devices to look for evidence, helping police at the early stage of investigations.

Scotland’s police service has invested a significant amount of money in obtaining 41 of the kiosks, which have been trialled in Edinburgh and Stirling on what Police Scotland described as “low-level crime.”

A freedom of information request filed in April showed that information extracted from devices could not be taken within a specific time frame – meaning officers must access all photographs, messages and other forms of data. In addition, officers would also be able to retrieve and access previously deleted data.

Fears Cyber Kiosks Violate Right to Privacy

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), MSPs, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Faculty of Advocates and Big Brother Watch, among others, believe that by giving police officers the ability to bypass passwords on mobile phones to access data could be against the law.

Others have voiced fears that the technology could be abused to allow officers to indiscriminately download huge amounts of personal information from devices without people’s knowledge or consent.

The officer in charge of the programme said he was satisfied the kiosks were lawful but conceded that proceeding with the roll-out would be “foolhardy” until the concerns had been properly addressed.

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