Surveillance Threat: India Preps For Nationwide Facial Recognition System

Facial Recognition System is seen as a mass surveillance system that gathers data in public places without there being an underlying cause to do so.| Image Source - medium.com

The Narendra Modi government has prepared to install country-wide facial recognition system in an effort to combat crimes in the country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the facial recognition system will help in “modernising the police force, information gathering, criminal identification, and verification”. The move, however, has already triggered privacy concerns.

Facial Recognition System is seen as a mass surveillance system that gathers data in public places without there being an underlying cause to do so. Technology and policy experts see this is as problematic and argue that without a data protection law and an electronic surveillance framework, it can lead to social policing and control.

The unavailability of complete information on where and how the system will be deployed is worrisome. The biggest concerns relate to the who and how of data collection, storage and access. Experts call for a constructive public discussion on this issue and for the Modi government to clearly state its exact plan for this project.Facial recognition technology was launched in a few Indian airports in July, and Delhi police last year said they had identified nearly 3,000 missing children in just days during a trial.

But technology site Comparitech, which ranked the Indian cities of Delhi and Chennai among the world’s most surveilled cities in a recent report said it had found “little correlation between the number of public CCTV cameras and crime or safety”.

Moreover, India’s Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling in 2017 on the national biometric identity card programme Aadhaar, mentioned individual privacy was a fundamental right, amid concerns over data breaches and the card’s mandated use for services.

Yet the ruling did not checked the roll-out of facial recognition technology, or a proposal to link Aadhaar with social media account. 

Indian authorities, however, have defended their plans to build a sweeping facial recognition system after criticism that they are creating a mass-surveillance tool with minimal oversight.
The National Crime Records Bureau have argued that the proposed facial recognition system would be among the world’s most ambitious in its breadth and has adequate approval. They added that it does not violate the principle of consent and will be maintained under strict safeguards.Privacy advocates however argue that the government has not provided adequate explanation or justification for the proposed system. They say it lacks a legal and policy framework and would be open to abuse.


LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here