The Indian authorities has performed down fears of mass surveillance in response to issues that its proposed facial recognition system lacks ample oversight.
Replying to a legal notice filed by the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), a Delhi-based non-profit that works on digital liberties, the nation’s Nationwide Crime Document Bureau (NCRB) defended the transfer, stating it doesn’t intrude with privateness of residents because it “solely automates the prevailing police process of evaluating suspects’ images with these listed in LEA’s [Law Enforcement Agency] databases.”
It additionally dismissed issues of misidentification and discriminatory profiling, and mentioned the undertaking will solely be used to determine lacking folks and unidentified useless our bodies.
The necessity for facial recognition
The transfer comes after NCRB opened bids from private companies in June to assist develop a facial recognition system — dubbed Nationwide Automated Facial Recognition System (NAFRS) — that might enable legislation enforcement to match folks of curiosity in opposition to an current database of facial photos.
“This is able to significantly facilitate the investigation of crime and detection of criminals and supply data for simpler and quicker evaluation,” the tender doc mentioned.
NAFRS may also “add images obtained from newspapers, raids, despatched by folks, sketches and many others. to the prison‘s repository tagged for intercourse, age, scars, tattoos, and many others. for future searches.” It would have choices to add “bulk topic photos” and “CCTV feeds” to “generate alerts if a blacklist match is discovered.”
Lack of a authorized framework
The system, as soon as in place, is predicted to be accessible to all police companies throughout the nation. As well as, it’s prone to be one among the many largest facial recognition equipment with a capability of processing over 15 million facial photos.
The bids for the undertaking have been due on November 7, however the deadline has now been extended till January 3, 2020.
Nonetheless, the proposals have walked right into a privateness minefield, what with the nation missing robust legislations round knowledge assortment, safety, and sharing, not to mention regulating using facial recognition expertise.
A draft data protection bill introduced to the federal government final yr is anticipated to be introduced into parliament during the winter session, which kicks off on November 18.
Questions on knowledge safety and consent
The nation has had issues implementing Aadhaar, one of many world’s greatest biometric nationwide identification databases linking all the things from financial institution accounts to revenue tax filings, which been suffering from data leaks and the growth of a black market for private data.
IFF, for its half, has reiterated that there’s no legislative framework that grants NAFRS any legality. Whereas the NCRB mentioned the system wouldn’t be built-in with Aadhaar, IFF has voiced issues about “inadvertent entry” ensuing from the mixing of varied databases, thereby violating particular person consent.
Calling for a withdrawal of the tender, the IFF has urged for a “moratorium on all privateness invading initiatives till a knowledge safety legislation and authority is in existence.”
Not simply India
India is much from the one participant seeking to deploy facial recognition on an unlimited scale. China already has leveraged the expertise to ascertain what’s a refined surveillance community, whereas legislation enforcement‘s use of facial databases within the US and UK have drawn scrutiny.
France plans to comply with India’s footsteps with an Aadhaar-like biometric citizen ID program referred to as Alicem that employs facial recognition to counter identification theft and “enhance confidence in digital transactions throughout the European Union for on-line providers.”
Complicating the matter additional is the dearth of oversight and knowledge safety laws to forestall exploitation of such delicate knowledge for doubtful functions.
“Whereas expertise may be very properly a pressure for good, previous to its integration in society, ample safeguards and safety of goal audiences must be in place,” the IFF mentioned.
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