wordpress blog stats
Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Indian Railways Continues To Push For Use Of Facial Recognition System Amid Surveillance Concerns

India’s DPDP Act offers a wide range of exemptions to government entities for processing people’s personal data without having to follow necessary safeguards such obtaining consent

In a move that will intensify surveillance in public places, the Railways Department is working on installing facial recognition system (FRS) at all major stations at the East Central Railway, according to a report by Times of India (TOI). According to sources from the railway board that TOI spoke to, the objective to install FRS at stations is to “enhance security measures”, while linking data collected through FRS to existing database of criminal activities in and around the railway station premises.

The report added that the railways department has identified at least 200 stations for a complete security overhaul, of which a few stations fall under the ECR jurisdiction.

Why it matters:

The rampant use of facial recognition technology for preventing crime in India has emerged as a concerning issue amidst legal uncertainties around the use of automated systems in public places. Recently, the Madras High Court issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government in response to a petition challenging the use of FRT in the state. Unchecked use of FRT-integrated applications has time and again infringed upon people’s right to privacy and freedom of movement. The railways department plans to link the data captured by the FRS to other crime databases, which poses a risk of mass-profiling and surveillance, and also raises concerns of tech-induced discrimination against communities.

Article continues below ⬇, you might also want to read:

Does the data protection law allow for such data collection?

India’s Digital Personal Data Protection Act offers a wide range of exemptions to government entities for processing people’s personal data without having to follow necessary safeguards such obtaining consent, or even providing information on such activities to the person whose data is being processed. Further, Section 17(1)(c) of the bill also exempts entities which are processing personal data in the interest of prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of any offence from certain key provisions of the law.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

This essentially means that the railways can justify the collection of people’s facial data without consent or their knowledge for the prevention of crime, while there’s little clarity about mechanisms to secure such a database.

Railways have evaded questions on data safety:

As Western Railways planned to expand the CCTV network across stations to prevent railway crimes in 2022, MediaNama reached out to the department enquiring about the safety of data collected through the camera systems. However, the department failed to provide detailed responses to critical questions, on:

  • Access to data collected through the CCTV network to the police for crime investigation
  • Details on storage of such data
  • Efficacy of surveillance systems in the reduction of crimes at railway stations

STAY ON TOP OF TECH NEWS: Our daily newsletter with the top story of the day from MediaNama, delivered to your inbox before 9 AM. Click here to sign up today!

Written By

Curious about privacy, surveillance developments and the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights.

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



Factors like Indus not charging developers any commission for in-app payments and antitrust orders issued by India's competition regulator against Google could contribute to...


Is open-sourcing of AI, and the use cases that come with it, a good starting point to discuss the responsibility and liability of AI?...


RBI Deputy Governor Rabi Shankar called for self-regulation in the fintech sector, but here's why we disagree with his stance.


Both the IT Minister and the IT Minister of State have chosen to avoid the actual concerns raised, and have instead defended against lesser...


The Central Board of Film Certification found power outside the Cinematograph Act and came to be known as the Censor Board. Are OTT self-regulating...

You May Also Like


Google has released a Google Travel Trends Report which states that branded budget hotel search queries grew 179% year over year (YOY) in India, in...


135 job openings in over 60 companies are listed at our free Digital and Mobile Job Board: If you’re looking for a job, or...


By Aroon Deep and Aditya Chunduru You’re reading it here first: Twitter has complied with government requests to censor 52 tweets that mostly criticised...


Rajesh Kumar* doesn’t have many enemies in life. But, Uber, for which he drives a cab everyday, is starting to look like one, he...

MediaNama is the premier source of information and analysis on Technology Policy in India. More about MediaNama, and contact information, here.

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ

Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ