On March 29, 2023, in response to questions posed in the parliament on the use of facial recognition systems by the Indian government, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology informed six areas where the authorities are using such technology. However, the list does not mention the use of facial recognition tools by law enforcement agencies in several states as well as for Smart City projects.
When asked whether the government has information on the credibility and accuracy of the results produced by such facial recognition systems, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “There is no reliable information regarding inaccuracy of the FRT technology.” He further claimed that as per the National Informatic Centre (NIC) AI Division, which provides the FRT technology for Sarathi, the accuracy rate is 99.9 percent. However, the Automatic Number Place Recognition (ANPR) system for vehicle identification “is used by external agencies authorized by State Police/ Transport Authorities for identification of traffic violations.” The MoS also stated that the government is not aware of any cases where such systems are being used for malicious purposes.
The unchecked use of facial recognition systems by authorities for unjustified objectives has raised serious concerns regarding the privacy of individuals, who, most of the time, are unaware that they are being surveilled through multiple face scanning tools in public places. In addition to privacy, the use of FRT by the police also raises apprehensions about discriminatory policing attitudes, wrongful arrests, and selective targeting based on limited data that may enforce biases and historical prejudices against specific communities.
Watch the video to know where the government is using FRT:
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