The tender floated by the government agency provides several vendor requirements such as a hand-held facial recognition scanner for every 100 candidates. You are reading it here first: The National Testing Agency (NTA) which conducts the Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE), National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), UGC-NET, and other major examinations will be deploying facial recognition technology along with other biometrics for verification of candidates giving the tests online. To understand the scale of how many people it would affect, JEE (Main) 2021 (February session) alone saw 6.52 lakh registrations, NEET 2020 had over 15 lakh registrations, and UGC-NET had 5 lakh registrations for its September 2020 examinations. In fact, at one point in the tender - which the NTA floated for selecting a company to install and implement this technology - it said that "total number of candidates for all examinations in a year is likely to be 50 lakh (approx)." Why it matters? There has been a big push from the Indian government towards introducing facial recognition technology (FRT) in its various departments and institutions due to COVID-19. The reasoning provided for this is that FRT would help in maintaining social distancing norms and other COVID-19 guidelines; although, one is forced to wonder how, since FRT needs a subject to remove their mask for verification. Setting aside the procedural aspects, the introduction of these technologies also comes at a time when India does not have robust laws in place to regulate the usage of such technologies which deal with sensitive…
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