MSPs have raised the alarm over Police Scotland using new machines to grab data from mobile phones and computers while their legality is still in doubt.

The force is pushing ahead with so-called cyber kiosks despite a previous promise to parliament that they would not be used without a solid legal foundation.

Holyrood’s policing committee said the public would be “rightly concerned” by the move.

It plans to take urgent evidence on the matter next week.

The Herald revealed in April that Police Scotland had spent £370,000 on 41 cyber kiosks.

Also known as digital device “triage systems”, the machines can override passwords to access private data such as text messages, encrypted conversations, photos, web browsing history, contacts and call records in a matter of seconds.

They have already been used in pilots in Edinburgh and Stirling by officers investigating “low level crime”.

However there are concerns it is a grey area of the law.

In September, Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean reassured MSPs that the machines would not be used until signed off by a dedicated stakeholders group.

He said: “

If there was no legal basis to use the technology in Scotland, it would be inappropriate for us to continue the roll-out.”

The stakeholder group has not yet agreed the machines should be used, but Police Scotland still has plans to roll them out across Scotland next month and early 2019.

Green MSP John Finnie, convener of Holyrood’s policing sub-committee, said: “MSPs and the public will be rightly concerned to hear that the police service is very close to rolling out cyber-kiosks while major questions remain unanswered over the legality of using these machines.

“The sub-committee has been at the forefront of raising questions about cyber-kiosks, and we will continue to hold police leadership to account for their decisions in the coming weeks.”

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office said: “We are concerned that the collection and use of personal data by the kiosks is compliant with data protection law.”

DCS McLean said: “

While we are confident that the law would allow us to use kiosks, we understand the importance of providing assurance around the legal basis for using the technology, privacy protection and good data security.

“We have engaged with a range of stakeholders and previously outlined a timeline to the justice sub-committee, which included a training programme later this month. However, the operational use of kiosks would be dependent on the legal position being clarified.”