'Facial-recognition system will not violate privacy'

Centre says it’s to aid law enforcement

Updated - July 27, 2019 05:26 pm IST

Published - July 11, 2019 10:38 pm IST - New Delhi

The Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) would not violate privacy of citizens and is only being developed to help the law enforcement agencies to identify criminals, missing children and unidentified bodies in a scientific and speedy manner, a senior government official said on Thursday.

The AFRS, being implemented by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), is a component of Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), a national database of crimes and criminals. The official said that the data will only be accessible to law enforcement agencies.

The NCRB had last week invited bids for AFRS that would even “capture face images from CCTV feed and generate alerts if a blacklist match is found,” triggering privacy concern.

At present, there are 7.71 lakh cases of missing persons in the CCTNS database that includes 98,000 children, the official said.

“This software will be used only in respect of such persons who figure on the CCTNS data base -- accused persons, prisoners, missing persons and unidentified found persons including children, and unidentified dead persons -- and is not going to be used on any other data base,” the official said.

Just as fingerprint matching is used in investigation by the police by matching fingerprint found in crime scene with the fingerprint database, the AFRS will add another information layer to investigation by allowing matching photograph of suspect or missing person with the photo database of CCTNS. “This is already done manually,” the official said.

“With this tool, in case an unidentified child is recovered, the police can match the photo of child with the missing children data base for quick identification and restoration to their family,” the official said.

In case a person is suspected or arrested for crime during investigation, his photo can also be matched over the CCTNS data base for previous criminal records. This will ensure that criminals and terrorists will no longer be able to hide behind fake identities, the official added. Presently, police undertake manual search for matching photographs on CCTNS data base.

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