India's National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has extended the deadline to submit bids for the Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) to March 27, 2020, due to “administrative reasons." The bids would be opened on March 30. This is the sixth time that the deadline for submitting bids has been extended, with the previous deadline being January 31, 2020. Before that, the deadline was January 3, but it was postponed then as well, due “administrative reasons”. The initial deadline to submit bids was August 16 — meaning that NCRB hasn’t been able to go past the bidding process for more than 5 months now. The AFRS is a centralised web application, and is expected to be the foundation for “a national level searchable platform of facial images”. MediaNama has reached out to NCRB to understand the specific reason(s) for extension. The database of facial images will be created by using passports, data from the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), and the Interoperable Criminal Justice System, among other things, NCRB had said in a tender document. In July 2019, the NCRB had held a pre-bid meeting with vendors willing to bid to develop the AFRS, who raised queries regarding the future integration of AFRS with other systems, and how the system would deal with cases of plastic surgery. Prospective bidders had also said that requirements to qualify for developing the AFRS could hardly be met by domestic companies, and in turn give an edge to bigger international firms. Concerns surrounding surveillance, violation…
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