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Facial recognition technology being used at NTPC for biometric attendance, says Minister of Power in Parliament

Since the onset of the pandemic, the deployment of attendance-registering systems equipped with facial recognition technology has been on the rise in India.  Facial recognition technology (FRT) is being used in the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC), Minister of Power Rakesh Singh revealed in response to a parliamentary question in Rajya Sabha. The question was submitted by Congress Rajya Sabha MPs Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Phulo Devi Netam. Singh said, "On this background, NTPC has been using biometric attendance for its employees including FRT." While Singh said, "NTPC follows all laws of the land, applicable for electronic and biometric data in the implementation of Facial Recognition Technology (FRT)", he also stated that as per the policy of NTPC, the consent of employees shall not be required for the implementation of FRT. Why it matters? Facial recognition technology is being deployed by the government at a rapid scale in locations such as examination centres, airports, railways, and defence PSUs. Though the government claims that it's being done in order to ensure contact-less interactions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it's important to note that usage of FRT requires people to remove their masks. Increased usage of FRT is also concerning because India does not have a law to regulate the usage of personal data and the draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 is yet to be passed. FRT has also come under the scanner for its inaccuracies in identifying people of colour, according to a research study.  The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) had filed an RTI in…

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