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RTI on FRT-based authentication reveals details about govt’s ‘touchless’ vaccination pilot project

Privacy campaigners have raised concerns about the accuracy of facial recognition technology even as the government pushes for an Aadhaar-linked vaccine registration process.  In response to an RTI, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) last week confirmed its use of facial recognition technology (FRT) to facilitate "touchless" vaccination registration as part of a pilot project. However, the reply, filed in response to an RTI by digital rights advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), does not provide a response when asked about the legal or legislative basis for the mechanism. Instead, it states that "facial recognition authentication is used as one of the methods for Aadhaar-authentication for online verification of beneficiary prior to Covid-19 vaccination". Details revealed by the RTI In April, RS Sharma, CEO of the National Health Authority, had mentioned in an interview with The Print that the government plans on introducing facial recognition-based Aadhaar authentication to make the vaccination process touchless. He further added that a pilot carrying out over 1,000 authentications daily was already underway in Jharkhand. Here are the details sought by IFF's RTI, and the Ministry's response if any- Details of the database(s) in which images are stored for the purpose of facial recognition including: Where are these images sourced from Where is this database located Which persons and/or organisations have access to this database Reply: The ministry routes data through the UIDAI for verification against the facial data of a beneficiary but does not store it. Whether there are any guidelines, policies,…

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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