The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has extended the deadline for vendors to submit their bids to India's controversial Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) for the eleventh time. The new deadline is now 5 pm on September 17. The earlier deadline to submit bids was August 27, and the organisation, which is a part of the Home Ministry and tasked with developing AFRS, said that deadline was postponed due to "administrative reasons". The large scale facial surveillance tool is a centralised web application, and is pegged to be the foundation for “a national level searchable platform of facial images”. Last month, NCRB had held a pre-bid meeting with prospective companies who are interested in helping the organisation develop the large scale surveillance system. MediaNama had exclusively reported on that meeting. The meeting had happened after the NCRB scrapped an original tender document for the project and floated a new one in June. Changes to AFRS’s capabilities While questions had been rightly raised against the privacy concerns of deploying an incessantly invasive surveillance tool at such a large scale, the government had tried addressing some of the challenges in the revised tender. The deployment of the facial recognition tool will neither involve the installation of CCTV cameras nor will it connect to any existing CCTV camera anywhere, under the new tender document. However, while this was a welcome change compared to the old tender, the AFRS is now set to have more searchable attributes. It is envisaged to have a searchable image/visual…
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