The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released a Request for Proposal for an Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS). Critically analyse impact of such technology.(250 Words)

Mentor’s Comment

  1. Explain Automated Facial Recognition System.
  2. Give positives of technology
  3. Give negatives of it.
  4. Conclude suggesting a way forward opting for a middle path.

As the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under Home Ministry aims to install Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) to track and nab criminals, the debate on the misuse of the face recognition technology has sparked fresh debate in India.

Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS):
AFRS will be a mobile and web application hosted in NCRB’s (which manages data for police) data centre in Delhi but used by all police stations in the country.
AFRS works by comparing the new image of an unidentified person often taken from CCTV footage with the existing database ( AFRS maintains a database with photos and videos of peoples faces) to find a match and identify the person.
The artificial intelligence technology used for pattern-finding and matching is called “neural networks”.

Benefits of the technology:
Automated Facial Recognition System can play a very vital role in crime prevention and criminal identification and verification (identifying criminals, missing people, and unidentified dead bodies) by facilitating easy recording, analysis, retrieval and sharing of information between different organizations.
Automated Facial Recognition System can play a very vital role in improving outcomes in the area of Criminal identification and verification by facilitating easy recording, analysis, retrieval and sharing of Information between different organisations.
While fingerprints and iris scans provide far more accurate matching results, automatic facial recognition is an easier solution especially for identification amongst crowds.
The integration of fingerprint database, face recognition software and iris scans will massively boost the police department’s crime investigation capabilities.
It will also help civilian verification when needed. No one will be able to get away with a fake ID.
It facilitates easy recording, analysis, retrieval and sharing of Information between different organisations.
The new facial recognition system will be integrated with Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJS), as well as state-specific systems, the Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration and Tracking (IVFRT), and the Khoya Paya portal on missing children.

What are the concerns around using facial recognition:
While the benefits of the technology for law enforcement agencies in fighting crime and identifying missing people and also for the industry for business purposes cannot be denied, it is the misuse of the technology that can put the citizens of the country in trouble.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 does not specially deal with misuse of this technology.
The first casualty of the absence of regulatory framework for facial recognition technology will people’s right to privacy.
In the absence of data protection law, Indian citizens are more vulnerable to privacy abuses.
In India, there is not even any framework to regulate the storage of facial recognition data.
Some of the major technology giants including Microsoft and Amazon also agree that there is a need for governments to regulate this technology.
Cyber experts across the world have cautioned against government abuse of facial recognition technology, as it can be used as tool of control and risks inaccurate results.

Amid NCRB’s step to install an automated facial recognition system, India should take note of the ongoing privacy debate in the US. While AFRS can enable police to identify persons of interest and suspects where they would probably not otherwise have been able to do so, considerable investment and changes to police operating procedures are required to generate consistent results. AT the same time, our data protection regime has to be strengthened with legal backing. AFRS can be a game changer for the law and order enforcement agencies, but it needs to be handled with care.

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