Lucknow Police’s decision to use facial recognition technology (FRT) to monitor women’s expressions to prevent street harassment has raised privacy concerns among Indians. The government must create strict and clear regulations before allowing law enforcement agencies to use facial recognition for policing, privacy advocates have said.
“Given the explicit and detailed findings on privacy from the Supreme Court, one of the first laws or regulations should have been around the use of the CCTV camera and the FRT,” said NS Nappinai, cyber law expert and lawyer of SC. “I am concerned that intrusive technologies will be used in the name of protecting women and children, but without checks and balances.”
The accuracy of the FRT is also a problem and authorities are reluctant to admit that it is prone to errors, Anushka Jain, associate lawyer, Transparency and RTI, told the Internet Freedom Foundation.
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“In the case of the Telangana State Election Commission, which uses the FRT for voter verification, the information they gave us via RTI were that their system is only accurate up to 78%. With people wearing masks because of the new standard, the accuracy is still going to be affected, ”she said.
A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States in 2020 found that pre-covid algorithms “give increased false mismatch rates” when used for images with people wearing masks. The study tested 89 one-to-one facial recognition algorithms made before the pandemic and found that some of the algorithms failed 30-50% of the time.
The goal of startups who build facial recognition technologies is only to make their algorithm as good as possible to sell their products, Jain said. “Privacy often takes a back seat,” she says. Privacy experts said citizens would not know who can access data when it is transmitted to private companies, which is even more concerning given the lack of data protection laws.
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