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41 % of CCTVs in Hyderabad defunct as of August 2022: did this boost use of facial recognition tech?

The city police responded to an RTI filed by social activist SQ Masood on installation & maintenance of CCTV cameras in public places.

Of the 10597 CCTV cameras installed by the Hyderabad police in public places under police limits, a total of 4402 CCTVs are not working, the city police informed in a Right to Information (RTI) response. The RTI was filed by social activist SQ Masood in 2020 and the response came in only on August 2, 2022, after multiple follow-ups and appeals. The data represents the status until the date of information provided. The RTI also reveals that CCTV cameras can store footage for a minimum of 30 days. That 41 per cent of these CCTVs were defunct until a few months ago indicates the poor maintenance of an infrastructure largely maintained to prevent crime in the city. This can also mean greater dependence of the police on other tools, such as facial recognition technology (FRT) in normal times too, which are more invasive at a time when there is no information in the public domain about its legality. Further, there have been concerns about the police collaborating with private firms to use the facial recognition system through the CCTV networks for law enforcement. When Masood enquired about whether any private agency is hired for the installation and maintenance of the CCTV cameras and regarding the details of such agency, the police refused to disclose the information citing section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. According to the RTI response, the CCTV installations are carried out under the Telangana Public Safety Measures Enforcement Act, 2013 & Rules 2014. The Telangana authorities have…

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Curious about privacy, surveillance developments and the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights. Outside work, I am either reading, reflecting on my notepad, re-tuning my voice or just overthinking!

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