Use of facial recognition technology by police is dangerous

News: Hyderabad city police is deploying lakhs of cameras connected in a real-time network managed by Hyderabad’s Command and Control Centre and can be used for facial recognition technology.

In Hyderabad, an Integrated Police Command Control Centre has been set up, with a cost of Rs 800 crore. The center will allow the police to access real-time surveillance footage from the network of cameras that monitor the city.

Numerous reports have emerged from Hyderabad about illegal search operations and police taking photographs of people on the road without any reason.

What is Facial Recognition Technology(FRT)?

Facial recognition technology identifies the distinctive features of a person’s face, and it creates a biometric map using these features. Then an algorithm matches these features with possible individuals. The system searches across databases of millions of images and information gathered without knowledge or consent.

What are the issues with FRT?

Surveillance practices like data analytics, social media analysis capabilities and facial recognition are alleged to be an attempt to control citizens’ lives through technology.

International experience – The EU is in the process of banning this technology. Belgium, Luxembourg and multiple cities in the US have already banned this technology.

Specific concerns linked to India:

-Supreme Court in its judgment has already recognized the Right to Privacy as the fundamental right. However, there is yet no privacy law in India to regulate data collection and to act as an oversight mechanism. The proposed ‘Personal Data Protection Bill 2019’ is still stuck in Parliament.

– Without a law on privacy, public spaces will turn into sites of technological experimentation, where human rights are sidelined for profit and control.

-In the name of the protection of women and children, public money is being spent on these technologies. However, there is yet no evidence of their effectiveness, further wasting public funds.

-This Hyderabad model will motivate other state police departments and intelligence agencies to adopt similar measures throughout the country.

Source: This post is based on the article “Use of facial recognition technology by police is dangerous” published in The Indian Express on 24th November 2021.

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