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How Telangana is using the pandemic to push facial recognition tech on its population

Your face has a lot of value in Telangana these days. It can help you apply for a duplicate or renewed license without ever leaving the house. If you are an intermediate student, it can help you enrol in a degree college, again, without ever leaving the house. Interestingly, none of this would have been possible before the pandemic. The youngest state of country has been evangelising the benefits of facial recognition technology to its people for many years now. However, the global Covid-19 pandemic has caused a shift of gears in the state government: in a matter of months, the tech has been deployed in two major areas — degree admissions and RTA services. Soon, it could also be used in the distribution of ration as well. The use of facial recognition and artificial intelligence has also raised questions around citizens' privacy and consent, especially considering how India still doesn't have a law for personal data protection. However, the Telangana government is undeterred. In an interview with MediaNama, Jayesh Ranjan, the state's IT and Industries Principal Secretary, said that when government work is concerned, "consent is implicit". He also commented on concerns about algorithmic bias against minorities, emphasising that the tech was constantly being improved to tackle these things. New facial recognition deployments are pandemic driven Telangana has deployed facial recognition in two new areas since the pandemic began — degree admissions and Road Transport Authority (RTA) services. Degree admissions: Telangana introduced facial recognition in degree admissions in June…

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