From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : FRS
Mains level : Right to Privacy Issues
India has seen a rapid deployment of Facial Recognition Systems (FRS) in recent years, both by the Centre and State governments, without putting in place any law to regulate their use.
Facial Recognition System
- A FRS is a technology capable of matching a human face from a digital image or a video frame against a database of faces.
- It is typically employed to authenticate users through ID verification services, works by pinpointing and measuring facial features from a given image.
Why in news?
- There is a growing unabated use of this potentially invasive technology without any safeguards.
- This poses a huge threat to the fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech and expression of the citizens.
FRS in India
- Currently, 18 FRSs are in active utilisation by the Centre and State governments for the purpose of surveillance, security and authentication of identity.
- 49 more systems are in the process of being installed by different government agencies.
- Delhi Police was the first law enforcement agency in the country to start using the technology in 2018.
- Only Telangana is ahead of Delhi at present with four facial recognition systems in active utilization for surveillance and authentication of identity.
Judicial scrutiny of the move
- States say that they are authorized by the Delhi High Court in terms of the decision in the case of ‘Sadhan Haldar vs NCT of Delhi’.
- In that particular case, the High Court had authorized the Delhi police to obtain facial recognition technology for the purpose of tracking and reuniting missing children.
- FRS may be used in the investigation in the interest of safety and security of the general public.
A potential mis-use?
Ans. Can’t say!
- Activists pointed out that Delhi Police was now using the FRS, which was meant for tracking missing children, for wider security and surveillance and investigation purpose.
- There is a “function creep” happening with Police gradually using the technology beyond its intended purpose.
- For example, the use of FRS to identify accused who took part in the farmers’ tractor rally violence in January this year.
Need of the hour
Ans. Bring accountability
- Surveillance of any kind happens in secret and the people generally don’t know that they are being watched.
- The idea behind is to bring light to the fact that these technology systems are being used without any laws in place to regulate them.
- Police and state authorities should use such technologies for specific and special purposes with proper authorization.
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