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Facial Recognition Technology deployed by India at Airports & Railway Stations – Right to Privacy

Facial Recognition Technology deployed by India at Airports & Railway Stations – Right to Privacy

Relevance:

  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice || Human Development || Concept of Development

Why in news?

Facial recognition spreads concerns over absence of data protection law.

Present context:

  • Facial recognition technology (FRT) software systems are being installed at several of India’s largest airports and train stations, with a rapidly spreading network of closed-circuit cameras by numerous state-owned agencies to pan through databases of images to identify individuals in real time.
  • The Airports Authority of India, Indian Railways, public sector utilities, and the state-owned agency mandated to issue a unique identity to all residents of India have joined the growing list of users of this technology, which began with the Home Ministry’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and various police forces.

Background:

  • In December 2018, Uttar Pradesh Police used Trinetra, a program built by the Gurgaon-based business Staqu, to “zero in on the criminal” in a rapid and targeted way utilizing techniques like face recognition and biometric data analysis.
  • At the time, the database was built utilizing criminal records from the state police, jails, and the Government Railway Police.

About Facial Recognition Technology:

  • Facial recognition is a method of recognizing or verifying an individual’s identification by looking at their face; it may be used to identify persons in pictures, films, or in real-time.
  • Biometric security includes facial recognition.
  • Most face recognition software uses 2D pictures rather than 3D since it is easier to match a 2D image with public photos or those stored in a database.
  • Your face’s geometry is read by the program. The distance between your eyes, the depth of your eye sockets, the distance between your forehead and chin, the curve of your cheekbones, and the contour of your lips, ears, and chin are all important variables.
  • The goal is to figure out what facial landmarks are important for differentiating your face.
  • Based on a person’s facial characteristics, the face capture method converts analog information (a face) into a collection of digital information (data).
  • The study of Face has been reduced to a mathematical formula. A face print is the name for the numerical code.
  • Just like thumbprints are distinct, each person’s facial print is unique as well..

Facial recognition technology (FRT) software systems:

  • Objectives:
    • Better criminal identification, law enforcement usage at railway stations, passenger check-ins at airports, biometric attendance at businesses, and even student verification methods are all possibilities.
  • The camera system, which can recognize up to 50 persons in a single shot, will be utilized on the network’s busiest area.
  • According to the systems manufacturer, the video analytics system may be used to “form strategy” by measuring passenger flow on the network at any given moment, in addition to the declared goals of “identifying criminals” and “looking for missing individuals.”
  • Its goal is to make it easier to “identify offenders, unidentified dead corpses, and missing/found children and individuals.”
  • Users of this technology:The growing list of users of this technology, which started with-
    • The Home Ministry’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and various police forces,
    • The Airports Authority of India,
    • The Indian Railways,
    • Public sector utilities, and
    • The state-owned agency mandated to issue a unique identity to all residents of India.

Which technology is being used in India?

  • FRT software vendors include both domestic and international firms, and the systems aim to achieve a variety of goals, including improved criminal identification, law enforcement use at railway stations, passenger check-ins at airports, biometric attendance at workplaces, and even student authentication mechanisms.
  • FRT system at railway stations:
    • Western Railway has commissioned 470 video cameras with real-time facial recognition technology developed by the Russian video analytics firm NtechLab, which has been certified by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), a technical adviser and consultant to the Indian Railways, as part of a broader Indian Railways plan to install facial recognition tech at railway stations to “identify criminals.”
    • The camera system, which is believed to be capable of simultaneously recognizing up to 50 persons in a single shot, will be deployed on the network’s busiest portion.
    • According to the systems vendor, the video analytics system may be used to “form strategy” by measuring passenger flow on the network at any given moment, in addition to the stated goals of “identifying criminals” and “looking for missing individuals.”
  • Airports
    • FRT systems are in the process of being deployed at airports in Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune, Vijayawada, and Bengaluru & Hyderabad as part of a trial under the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s DigiYatra initiative.
    • For four of these airports Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada that are managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Japanese Electronics Company NEC has been roped in for the implementation. The project is expected to start by the end of this year.

Major flaw of FRT System

  • The FRT is only 70% accurate.
  • It is primarily based on an algorithm that favors the majority.
  • For example, if a significant number of people live in a monitoring region. Even if they have not committed any crimes, the majority of persons from that group will be identified as part of the inquiry.
  • Challenges and Issues
    • There is a risk of prejudice and inaccuracy. There is a breach of the right to privacy.
    • There are no clear guidelines.
    • Unregulated FRT can be used to blame anybody for a crime.

Current law that govern the CCTV cameras in Public places:

  • The Information Technology Act of 2000 governs privacy for all CCTV cameras, prescribing punishment for violation of privacy” for anyone who “intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes, or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating that person’s privacy.

Concerns associated

  • In the absence of data protection legislation that would impose the essential protections in the acquisition and storage of personal information.
  • The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is now in the Proof of Concept (PoC) phase of creating Aadhaar-based Face Authentication to augment biometric and iris-based authentication methods.
  • Using CCTV network pictures in conjunction with FRT would imply that their photos would be retained for a longer period of time, if not forever.
  • This information will also be utilized to extract certain data points, such as facial characteristics and other biometrics, that the person did not authorize to share while entering a CCTV-monitored zone. These data points can be utilized to monitor the person’s future movements.

Additional info:

  • DigiYatra Initiative: FRT systems are in the process of being deployed at airports in Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune, Vijayawada, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad as part of a trial under the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s DigiYatra initiative.

Mains oriented question:

Facial recognition technology is one of the very innovative idea to decrease crime and barrier of criminal but yet again there are certain challenges and concern associated with it, explain them in details. (200 words)