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Is facial recognition being used to repress India’s citizens?

(TECH NEWS) India used facial recognition tech to identify 1,100 individuals at a recent riot, is this illegal? India’s government has no law about the tech so who knows.

India's government

On February 25 and 26, a riot erupted in India’s capital, New Delhi, and sparked the reaction for police to use facial recognition technology in order to identify 1,100 participants in the illegal act. This volcanic reaction from the police has many criticising the government for breaching privacy policy and that this response has inherently added to religious discrimination in policing. Currently, India’s government has no policy or law for how to use this technology.

Spearheading this call to action to regulate this technology in use with the government is the Internet Freedom Foundation, a New Delhi-based digital rights advocacy group. The use of “Aadhaar for this purpose without any judicial authorisation violates the judgement of the Supreme Court in KS Puttaswamy v. UoI (2019).” In that recent judgement, the Supreme Court of India decided that “privacy is an incident of fundamental freedom or liberty guaranteed.”

For multiple years now, law enforcement agencies have used this technology in other protests. Most recently in January to which many critics claimed it “marginalises Muslims”. Executive Director of IFF, Apar Gupta, says, “all of this is being done without any clear underlying legal authority and it is in clear violation of the Rights to Privacy judgement (that the Indian apex court upheld in 2017).”

“This is a software. It does not see faith. It does not see clothes. It only sees the face and through the face the person is caught.” said India’s Home Ministry, Armit Shah. Police have informed that the technology is loaded with images from government-issued identity cards, driving licenses, and “other databases”, but have not informed if these “databases” have been deemed public knowledge.

With the rise of global issues of private policy and the enactments of policies like GDPR, it is a concern what information has been stored into this technology, what other information has been shared, if this information is coming from one religiously-biased source, and if individuals have given authority for this information to be shared, if private.

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Staff Writer, Kaiden Gray has experience in product management, strategic planning for non-profits, and can get through a series in a week on Netflix. He has traveled to over 20 countries, and when he's not in between flights, he's busy learning about the mysteries of the universe.

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  1. Pingback: IBM's CEO stops their facial recognition tech, for privacy reasons

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