In the name of security . . .
India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), an agency under the Home Ministry, has collected bids from private companies to create the nation’s first centralized facial recognition system. In a country with approximately 144 police officers for every 100,000 citizens, the NCRB sees automated facial recognition as a way to modernize the police force while enhancing “criminal identification and verification.” In New Delhi, a city that struggles with a high rate of child abduction and trafficking, trials of facial recognition technology have assisted the police in identifying almost 3,000 children who were reported missing. The technology has also been deployed to ease passenger traffic at a handful of Indian airports. Automated facial recognition technology currently in use in India feeds into the country’s CCTV network and biometric identity card system, Aadhaar.
Privacy rights concerns . . .
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has faced a backlash from civil right groups and data privacy advocates who believe that the deployment of such technology in the absence of relevant laws and regulations may lead to social policing and infringement on individuals’ rights to privacy, and freedom of movement and association. The government so far has given no details on the implementation of the facial recognition system, who will oversee it, or how the generated data will be stored, regulated, or used. India has legal precedent under a 2017 Supreme Court ruling declaring individual privacy a fundamental right. But this ruling has yet to be applied to facial recognition systems.
Not just in India, but a global trend . . .
From Europe to Asia, states are turning to facial recognition technology for surveillance, and stirring heated debates over how this technology should be used. At the moment, there are no clear policies on the regulation of the technology, especially on data governance. In China, citizens are taking companies to court to protest the collection of their biometric data. Similarly, cities like San Francisco in the U.S. have banned the use of facial recognition, and other U.S. jurisdictions have banned the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies. In Canada, airports – Vancouver International Airport, for instance – are currently looking at introducing facial recognition in security procedures, suggesting that similar debates are on the horizon for Canadians.