Now Govt Plans To Keep Watch On Your Face! What’s At Stake

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The government may soon keep tabs on you through your facial features and images from CCTV footage and other feeds if a Union Home Ministry proposal is approved.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the Home Ministry wing that maintains statistics on crime, has proposed to introduce Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) in the country.

#What Is AFRS

AFRS is a face recognition technology—a biometric identification system—that is used in schools, airports and even to track criminals. The new system, however, will be part of a pan-India implementation and feed a national database.

#How It Works

NCRB said the system would be “web-based application” that can be accessed through a web browser on computers and even on mobile phones.

It informed that AFRS should be capable of “identifying or verifying a person from various kinds of photo inputs from a digital image file to a video source. The system shall offer logical algorithms and user-friendly, simple graphical user interface making it easy to perform the facial matching”.

#Crime Check

NCRB said the technology will be used primarily to trace missing children, unidentified dead bodies, and criminals whose details are available in a countrywide database called the Crime and Criminal Control System (CCTNS).

Officials said the facial recognition system would help track down suspects using face images from CCTV feed by generating alerts if a blacklist match is found. This would greatly facilitate the investigation of crime and detection of criminals and provide information for easier and faster analysis, they said.

NCRB informed that AFRS will be used by all state police organizations and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which will be the nodal agency for the system.

#Privacy Concern

Cyber experts have warned that the country still lacks a data protection law and rolling out the system at such a time may create data privacy issues. The possibility of the system being used for profiling and reliability of the matches are also areas of concern, the experts added.

There have been international instances against the face recognition technology that lend credence to the concerns by cyber experts.

#International Incidents

Police in England are facing calls to halt the use of facial recognition software to search for suspected criminals in public after independent analysis found matches were only correct in a fifth of cases and the system was likely to break human rights laws on privacy and freedom of expression, The Guardian reported.

Researchers have found that the system regularly misidentified people who were then wrongly stopped, they added. They also warned of “surveillance creep”, with the technology being used to find people who were not wanted by the courts.

In a breach exposed by Washington Post, federal agents in US were found have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent.

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