UK Police “digital strip search”
Big Brother Watch
Privacy and data protection
In 2019, the UK Police brought in new regulations on how police officers should gather data-based evidence to investigate certain criminal cases. Under the policy, police can request that the victims of crime, including victims of sexual violence, give consent to the full download of their mobile phone and social media data. Police officers were informing victims that, should they not provide consent to this data extraction, they ran the risk of the investigation into their complaint being dropped. BBW refers to this as a “digital strip search.”
DFF supported Big Brother Watch to gather evidence and prepare an expert statement to assist and strengthen a legal challenge to this policy brought by two victims of rape, represented by the Centre for Women’s Justice. Big Brother Watch fed their expertise and research into the claimant’s pre-litigation correspondence and supported the litigation with an advocacy campaign
In July 2020, before the court hearing took place, the UK Police announced they would revoke the “digital strip search” policy and would draft an interim policy that limits police access to the digital devices of victims.
Big Brother Watch are now working with all the stakeholders involved on a long-term policy that better protects victim privacy.
"Police can request that the victims of crime, including victims of sexual violence, give consent to the full download of their mobile phone and social media data."
That the UK Police reform their regulations for collecting data-based evidence to better protect victims of crime from unjustified digital intrusion and invasive data collection.