Facial recognition threatens fundamental rights when it works, and also when it doesn’t work
Facial recognition is biometric technology which can be used to identify individuals by their face from millions of images in a database.
Facial recognition threatens the rights of minority communities, and people with darker skin, who are at risk of false identification and false arrests. But even when it correctly identifies someone, facial recognition threatens to put discriminatory policing on steroids.
Despite these human rights concerns, the Indian government has spent 9.6 billion rupees on facial recognition technology.
- The technology is developed through scraping millions of images from social media profiles, police databases, and publicly accessible sources like newspapers without permission or consent 
- Minority communities are at risk of being misidentified and falsely arrested – for instance, Delhi police’s facial recognition system was reported to be accurate only 2% of the time 
Facial Recognition Can Amplify Discriminatory Policing and Threaten the Right to Protest
- Even when it “works”, facial recognition can further exacerbate discriminatory policing that disadvantages individuals who belong to historically disadvantaged sections of society – Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, Transgender communities, and other historically disadvantaged sections of society – even when they are exercising consitutionally protected rights
- It can also prevent the free and safe exercise of peaceful assembly by acting as a tool of mass surveillance
– But that’s not all –
- Law enforcement are promoting facial recognition under the guise of protecting women and children, but is always used as a system of mass surveillance.
- But this could happen anywhere (and it is already happening)
- India’s Automated Facial Recognition System proposed by the Home Ministry contemplates a nationwide centralized database that will enable State actors to use facial recognition to track your every move – in the absence of basic privacy, security and rights protections.
That’s Why we are Calling on Vendors and Telangana Law Enforcement to Ban the Use of Facial Recognition
Call on vendors to halt the provision of facial recognition
Call on vendors of facial recognition to India to immediately halt the development, sale and testing of facial recognition technologies that enable mass and discriminatory surveillance.
CAll on law enforcement to stop the use of facial recognition
Call on Indian law enforcement agencies to halt the procurement and use of facial recognition technologies. No amount of legal safeguards can make facial recognition compatible with human rights.
Facial Recognition Threatens Your Human Rights
In Hyderabad, Telangana state, the government has initiated the construction of a “command and control centre” (CCC), a building that connects the city’s vast CCTV infrastructure in real time. Situated in Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills area, the CCC supports the processing of data from up to 600,000 cameras at once with the possibility to increase beyond this scope across Hyderabad city, Rachakonda, and Cyberabad.
Hyderabad City in Telangana state is already ranked as one of the most surveilled cities in the world.    Yet, the government has initiated the construction of a “command and control centre” (CCC), a building that connects the city’s vast CCTV infrastructure in real time. Situated in Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills area, the CCC reportedly supports the processing of data from up to 600,000 cameras at once with the possibility to increase beyond this scope across Hyderabad city, Rachakonda, and Cyberabad. These cameras can be used in combination with Hyderabad police’s existing facial recognition cameras to track and identify individuals across space.
Amnesty International, Internet Freedom Foundation, and Article 19’s research unearthed documents by Hyderabad Police disclosing the technical specification of their cameras, which have the capability of capturing imagery from at minimum 2 megapixels and upwards. In practice, this means the cameras have a field of vision with a radius of at least 30 meters.
With the help of a group of Telangana-based volunteers, we mapped the locations of immediately visible outdoor CCTV infrastructure in two sampled neighbourhoods – Kala Pathar and Kishan Bagh, surveying areas of approximately 988,123.5 square meters and 764,207.8542 square meters, respectively. Based on this data, our analysis estimated that in these two neighbourhoods at least 530,864 and 513,683 square meters, respectively, was surveilled by CCTV cameras – that’s 53.7% and 62.7% of the total area covered by volunteers.
In addition to earlier deployments of facial recognition capable devices beyond CCTV cameras, such as tablets and other “smart” cameras, the construction of the Command and Control Centre risks supercharging the already rampant rights-eroding practice, with no regulation in place to protect civilians.