Protestors in India Concerned by Use of Facial Recognition

Protestors in New Delhi are covering their faces now that the police have begun using facial recognition software to identify people. This has been going on since the middle of December when outrage began with the new citizenship law that people feel ostracizes Muslims.

Now activists worry that facial recognition is an abuse of power and the insufficient regulation of the new technology also brings forward worries.

Protestors are worried about what the police plan to do with their data. They cover their faces so that the facial recognition software cannot capture them. The first revelation that the software was being used was by the Indian Express newspaper, not by the police themselves.

This brings into question the real reason the police have begun using it in the protests, to begin with.

The police say that they are only using it to catch persons who are wanted, not for any other reason. They say that they do not store the protestor’s data, nor do they plan on doing so.

The facial recognition software that India is using is from an Indian startup named Innefu Labs called AI Vision. This software also includes gait and body analysis.

A former police chief, who retired last month, stated that the software has helped them detain more than 1,100 people who were links to violent protest acts. This comes from a population of 220 million people.

Rights groups are in an outrage calling it excessive force. The state maintains the stance that the tougher policies have restored order.

It is a possibility that the entire country could soon be using facial recognition software instead of just a few of the larger populated provinces. Under Modi’s government, the country is seeking to create a nationwide database. They will call it the National Automated Facial Recognition System. This will help with matching images from CCTV cameras to databases, passports, and other police authorities.

A foreign firm is expected to win the bid due to the terms requiring an evaluation by the U.S.’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. Innefu and Staqu (the current facial recognition companies) said that they will not be bidding.

Critics are saying that India is currently on its way to being a mass-surveillance country like China.