“Support for surveillance technologies amongst the general public stemmed from ignorance about the right to privacy and the dangers of surveillance technologies…the public tends to view surveillance as an effective tool for public safety and national security,” experts point out in a recent report ‘Status of Policing in India 2023’ which focused on surveillance trends and its impact on citizen privacy. The survey, conducted by the Common Cause and the Lokniti Programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, involved 9,779 individuals across 12 Indian States and UTs. The participants were interviewed in person to understand their views and perceptions about digital surveillance and technologies like CCTVs, facial recognition, and drones. The study offers a deeper understanding of how ordinary citizens view government projects like Aadhaar and drone initiatives, rampant deployment of facial recognition tech (FRT) by law enforcement agencies, and other projects that are striking fears of citizen surveillance by state and non-state actors in India. It also provides insights on illegal government surveillance using the Pegasus software, and the use of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022, by the police to collect biometric data of suspects and detainees. To give a hint of the results, the findings are rather concerning. The data indicates that there’s a high level of public support for government surveillance exercises, which in turn translates to more support for police violence too. However, it's important to note that people from socio-economically marginalised and minority communities are least supportive of digital surveillance methods…
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