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How India’s telecom department is using facial recognition on SIM card data

It’s a violation of privacy if your facial recognition is being done when you buy a new SIM card without your knowledge

So, did you know that when you buy a new SIM card in Haryana today, your facial recognition is being done? When you buy a SIM card, they take a video or photo of your face along with your ID proof. Now, this is different from what it was, let’s say, five or ten years ago. And the reason they’re doing this is to prevent scammers from buying multiple SIM cards under one ID. So, they’ve limited the number of SIM cards you can buy to just eight. This is a program that the government is running called ASTR.

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We didn’t know about this. No one told us about it. We didn’t find any notification on it. At a conference that MediaNama did in November last year, one of our attendees, a telecom operator person, actually told us that this is happening. So we investigated, we reported, and my main question about this facial recognition is, why aren’t we being told? Secondly, why isn’t there a law to legitimize this? Because effectively, it’s a violation of privacy if your facial recognition is being done without you even knowing that your facial recognition is being done. This ASTR project needs to be questioned.

This post is released under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license. Please feel free to republish on your site, with attribution and a link. Adaptation and rewriting, though allowed, should be true to the original.

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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