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NCRB extends deadline to submit bids for Automated Facial Recognition System, again

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has extended the deadline to submit bids for the Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) to January 31, 2020, due to “administrative reasons”. This is the fifth time that the bureau has extended the deadline, with the previous one being January 3, 2020. The first deadline set by NCRB for submission of bids was August 16. 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 reasons for extension.

In November 2019, the NCRB had justified the legality of AFRS using a CCTNS Cabinet Note from 2009, where a system, akin to the AFRS, was envisaged. Based on this note alone, the Bureau said that the AFRS has cabinet approval, and is hence, legal. While responding to a legal notice sent by the Internet Freedom Foundation in July, NCRB had also said that the AFRS will not be integrated with the Aadhaar database.

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.

In July, IFF had said that NCRB’s proposed centralised facial recognition system was unfathomably detrimental to Indians, and had highlighted a lack of legality, absence of safeguards and accountability, and arbitrariness in the AFRS.

Read more about NCRB’s Automated Facial Recognition System and its request for proposal here.

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