Mail on Sunday – NCA building “library of voice prints”

Big Brother Watch Team / September 16, 2019

The National Crime Agency is building a “library of voice prints”, according to a recently uncovered job advertisement for the agency seeking a “voice analyst”.

A voice print is a digital interpretation of audio voice data that can biometrically identify an individual, much like a fingerprints or ‘face print’.

The job ad also makes reference to Alexa and Siri, prompting concerns that voice-activated smart assistants could be used to scoop up people’s biometric voice data.

The news follows our investigation last year, which found that HMRC had unlawfully collected over 5 million voice IDs from callers to the tax helpline. We subsequently made a complain to the ICO and called for the deletion of the data. In April 2019, the ICO ordered HMRC to delete the 5 million unlawfully collected voice prints, constituting the largest known deletion of biometric data in the UK.

It also comes just weeks after the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, warned that the UK risks becoming an “Orwellian police state“.

Our Director, Silkie Carlo, said:

We’re alarmed by the secret creation of yet another state-held library of people’s voice prints. This raises serious and urgent questions that the NCA must answer. Whose voices are being collected? Where from? Why? How will they be used? What’s Alexa got to do with it? Who has authorised this?

This is highly likely to be a covert scheme which means the British database state is continuing to grow in the shadows. Our job fighting it is getting harder.

Voice analytics lack a convincing legal basis, evidence basis, or any oversight in the UK.


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