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CBSE now has a facial recognition tool and it’s problematic

Image representing facial recogntition

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students will now be able to use a facial recognition system to download their academic documents for the tenth and twelfth grade. Essentially, students will be able to download their academic documents just by verifying their identity using a facial recognition tool, without requiring any other identifier. The academic documents repository itself is hosted on DigiLocker — an Aadhaar-based cloud-based locker. However, students who go through the facial recognition system won’t have to submit their Aadhaar details or mobile number — a move CBSE said was geared towards helping students based in foreign countries. Alarmingly, the website, on which it is hosted doesn’t seem to have a privacy policy. Students’ photographs, collected by the CBSE for issuing board admit cards, form the basis of the facial dataset that underpins this facial recognition system, Rama Sharma, public relations officer at CBSE, told MediaNama. Not much else is known about this facial recognition system, including who built it, and what sort of accuracy rates this system has. The website’s technology partner is the National e-Governance Division, an independent business division of the IT Ministry. We have reached out to NeGD for more details. When asked about the absence of a privacy policy, a person working at CBSE told MediaNama, on the condition of anonymity, that “the system has just been launched, and the department will rectify any errors along the way". This essentially suggests that CBSE has potentially not thought through the process of implementing a facial recognition system…

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