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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 03 January, 2021

  • 11 Min Read

Facial Recognition System

Facial Recognition System

Context: GS III Internal Security-Cyber Security (UPSC Prelims and Mains)

  • It is a biometric technology that uses distinctive features of the face to identify and distinguish an individual.
  • Over a period of almost 6 decades, it has evolved in many ways- from looking at 3D contours of a face to recognizing skin patterns.
  • The facial recognition system works primarily by capturing the face & its features through the camera and then using various kinds of software to reconstruct those features.
  • The captured face along with its features is stored into a database, which can be integrated with any kind of software that may be used for security purposes, banking services, etc.
  • In the Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS), the large database (containing photos and videos of peoples’ faces) is used to match and identify the person. Image of an unidentified person, taken from CCTV footage, is compared to the existing database using Artificial Intelligence technology, for pattern-finding and matching.

Uses of Facial recognition

  • It is used for identification and authentication purposes with a success rate of almost 75%.
  • For instance, the NCRB’s Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) manages crime data for police, use automated facial recognition to identify criminals, missing people, and unidentified dead bodies, as well as for “crime prevention”.
  • The project is aimed at being compatible with other biometrics such as iris and fingerprints.
  • The integration of fingerprint databases, face recognition software and iris scans will massively boost the police department’s crime investigation capabilities.
  • In India, where there are just 144 constables per 1 lakh citizens, this can act as a force multiplier. It neither requires too much manpower nor regular upgradation. Hence, this technology coupled with the present manpower in place can act as a game-changer.
  • It is increasingly being used for everything from unlocking of mobile phones to validating the identity, from auto-tagging of digital photos to finding missing persons, and from targeted advertising to law enforcement.
  • However, China’s reported use of facial recognition technologies for surveillance in the Xinjiang province opens the possibility of its abuse which becomes problematic in the absence of privacy and data security laws..
  • European Commission is considering imposing a five-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies in the European Union (EU). The United States municipalities are also passing rules for its prohibition. But, India is keen to adopt public facial recognition techniques.
  • Facial recognition systems have been made active at several major Indian airports, including Delhi airport, installed under DigiYatra Initiative.

But there are certain challenges

  • Technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are costly to implement. The size of stored information is extremely large and requires huge network & data storage facilities, which are currently not available in India.
  • In today’s world of cybercrime, there is a dire need to put appropriate safeguards in place in order to ensure the integrity of the repository/database, so that it doesn’t leak out the information and is not privatized or monetized.
  • Also, International & domestic accessibility interests need to be properly addressed.
  • The collected data from social media profiles where anybody can put anybody’s image, puts to risk the authenticity of the data. Hence, experts are needed to verify such details before storing them who should be provided proper training to protect & avoid abuse and misuse of the collected data & database.
  • As the data collected may be used in the court of law during the course of a criminal trial, the reliability and the admissibility of the data along with the standards and procedures followed would be taken into consideration. Hence, the authenticity of the data is crucial.
  • Government plans to address the question of privacy through the legal framework like the data privacy regime, but keeping in mind the objectives it aims to achieve with the use of such technology, it comes into conflict with one another.
  • In the absence of data protection laws, Indian citizens become more vulnerable to privacy abuses. As it is sensitive data, it has tremendous potential of being misused. Hence, the constitutional mandate of the right to privacy needs to be safeguarded along with the nature of technology, addressing the fears of invasion & surveillance.

Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS):

  1. It is a component of CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems) and is implemented by NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau).
  2. It is a repository of photographs of criminals in the country.
  3. It is also used to track missing children & unidentified dead bodies by putting cameras in critical locations.
  4. Only law enforcement agencies can use it.
  5. The system will treat each person captured in CCTV images as a potential criminal creating a map of the face with biometrics & measurements and matching features against the CCTNS database.
  6. San Franscisco has complete ban on police use of facial recognition.

Source: AspireNotes


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