Adding to the worries of privacy advocates and civil right activists in India, the country’s government is reportedly creating what is being described as the ‘world’s largest facial recognition system’. According to CNN, the project will create a single, centralized database that law-enforcement agencies from across the country’s 29 states and seven union territories would have access to.
As per the tender document cited by the report, the project would match images from CCTV cameras against an existing database comprising mug shots of known criminals, passport photos and images collected by agencies such as the Ministry of Women and Child Development. “(It) would also enable searches based on photos uploaded from newspapers, images sent in by the public or artist sketches of suspected criminals”, claimed the report.
If implemented with proper safeguards, the database might actually make the job of law-enforcement agencies in the country a whole lot easier without infringing on the privacy of citizens. Once fully functional, the technology will also enable police and security officials to instantly match the faces of suspects, captured with hand-held devices, with the national database through a mobile app.
As part of its plans to kick-start the ambitious project, India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) had invited applications from tech companies to build the project from ground-up. The last date to submit the proposal was October 11, but there’s no word yet on who will be awarded the contract, or when. As per the report, 80 interested parties took part in a pre-bid meeting last July, including the likes of IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Accenture, among others.