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Meghalaya govt releases app to verify pensioners via facial recognition, raises privacy concerns

While the app will reportedly store data on local servers, its launch can be viewed as part of a disturbing trend in facial recognition technology being deployed in India.  The finance department of the Meghalaya government released an app last month which would use Facial Recognition technology to verify whether its pensioners are alive to receive their next installments. In a blog post on Monday digital rights advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation revealed that it has assisted a law student in drafting a letter urging the Meghalaya government to reconsider its use of such an app. In its letter, IFF objects to the app saying that it violates principles laid down in the landmark K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India 2017 judgement on the right to privacy, does not provide safeguards to citizens against the misuse of data, and so on. What does this app do? In a press release, the Meghalaya CMO claims that the app will replace the existing pensioner verification process involving periodic visits to Treasury Officer or Pension Disbursing Authority. It will be capable of: Detecting whether a pensioner is alive from their "real time photographs" Verifying a pensioner's identity with the help of Face Verification Technology. Storing all the photographs captured in a local server, not outside the state or the country. The verification process will happen twice a year and the digital records will be available at the Treasury office for verification, according to the press release. IFF letter urging review of the app…

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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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