The charity Privacy International has obtained an August 2021 Home Office Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) through a Freedom of Information application, which assesses the impact of smartwatch technology before contracting with suppliers. In documents seen by the Guardian, the Home Office said the plan would involve “daily monitoring of monitored migrant individuals”, requiring them to wear a suitable ankle tag or a smartwatch and keep it with them at all times.
Those who must wear the device will be required to complete regular monitoring checks throughout the day by taking a picture of themselves on the smartwatch, and information including their name, date of birth, nationality and photo will be stored for up to six years. Locations will be tracked 24/7 and tracking monitoring data will be allowed to be recorded.
Photos taken with the smartwatch will be cross-checked with biometric facial images from the Home Office system, which must be checked manually if image verification fails. The data will be shared with the Ministry of the Interior, Justice and Police, and the contract prunes the number of devices to be produced and the cost of each smartwatch, and there is no mention of a risk assessment.
The Home Office said the smartwatch scheme would target foreign offenders who have been convicted of criminal offences, rather than other groups. In a June National Audit Office report, the government said it believed electronic surveillance was a cost-effective alternative to detention that would help achieve its goals of protecting the public and reducing recidivism.