Concerns on the use of facial recognition technology

Published: December 30, 2019

India looks to install in place the world’s largest facial recognition system. According to the National Crime records bureau, the chief aim of the facial recognition system is to modernise the police force and make it easier to catch criminals and track missing person.

Working of the facial recognition system

The NCRB has laid down guidelines for the facial recognition system, which must be able to recognise images from a variety of sources like CCTV, mobile devices and also photos from local newspapers. Secondly, it needs to be integrated with criminal databases used by different Indian police stations to track and apprehend suspects anywhere. The scale of the system will be massive as it will apply to to all states and UTs. With the application of the system, Indian citizens would find a sudden increase of cameras all around them.

Surveillance concerns

There are concerns over the usage of the system and how data will be used and stored. There are plans to unite facial recognition system and Aadhar, the national Biometirc ID card. There is also in talks the “National Intelligence Grid’ to link data from banking, finance, taxation with facial data. It will help the police to pull up any information and which may be without the consent of the person. There are also plans to use AI for scanning social media, which may result in processing of social media photos without their knowledge.
India is also pushing to use facial recognition for Digi Yatra making it easier to check in with your face while boarding the plane. The Indian authorities look at the system for more easier checks and might be able to catch a terror suspect, however India lacks any data protection law.

The Supreme court has ruled that privacy is a fundamental human right, however there are concerns of the facial recognition system becoming a mass surveillance system, specially among the Nation’s minorities. Additionally, there are concerns regarding the bidding system which allows foreign nations to bid for the surveillance project. So, will foreign players become a part of the system as well ?
With the presence of these factors, it is necessary to think about the pros and cons prior to pushing for a facial recognition project.

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