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“Nothing to worry”: Chennai Police Justifies Use of Facial Recognition System on Random Citizens

FRS is being used to verify random citizens and identify criminals moving around at night hours, Chennai Police said

What’s the news: In an incident that boggles the mind, Chennai police on December 8, 2022, owned up to stopping people on streets and scanning their faces to “identify criminals instantaneously.” In a tweet, the Greater Chennai police said that Facial Recognition System (FRS) is being used to “verify” persons moving around at night hours. On December 7, resident Siddharth was on his way home near Thillai Ganga Nagar subway when a “weird thing happened,” he said in his tweet. A couple of police officials stopped him, took his picture, and then let him go. The officers allegedly ignored his queries about the unexpected photo, leading Siddharth to ask on Twitter “What is this new procedure?!” Shocking still was Chennai police’s pacifying response telling Siddharth that there’s “nothing to worry.” Thanking Siddharth for his “cooperation”, the police’s Twitter handle said that the officers have started using FRS at night to verify the persons moving around after dark. “This system is very useful in identifying the criminals instantaneously,” said the police. https://twitter.com/chennaipolice_/status/1600684324697042944 Later, another netizen asked the police to share the provision of law that allowed them to do so. There has been no response so far. Why it matters:  Indian Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) are taking a keen interest in FRS even though the country still lacks enforcement of a solid privacy or data protection law. However, biometrics are sensitive personal data, which, here, is being collected without people’s informed consent. Worse still, the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill,…

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I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

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