This article is written by Raksha Yadav studying at ISBR Law College, Banglore pursuing a Diploma in Law Firm Practice: Research, Drafting, Briefing, and Client Management. This article has been edited by Ojuswi (Associate, Lawsikho).
This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.
Technology is the strongest weapon of the 21st century. Any person can rule the world if he/she masters the technology. A single click on a system can provide access to any information across the globe. Technology is a blessing for all human beings.
Nowadays each individual person is insecure about his/her privacy hence to protect their privacy they use security codes to protect their confidential data or information. One of the best technologies is biometric technology such as fingerprints, facial locks, iris recognition, and palm recognition to protect confidential information.
Facial Recognition Technology is an advancement of the new technology which helps to match every individual face with the digital image of the database. It is used to identify a person’s identity and document by biometric techniques. Every person has different identities hence facial recognition technology easily identifies the person from the database. This technology is used in schools and colleges for the attendance of students or faculty staff, in defence forces to identify criminals, in airports for scanning passengers, and unlocking phones, healthcare, marketing and advertising industries.
This article attempts to explain more about facial recognition technology, and how technology is constantly changing the world. We underestimate how much of an impact technology has on our daily lives.
In the 1960s Facial recognition came into existence when Woodrow Wilson Bledsoe developed the “RAND Tablet” which has the feature of facial recognition. Bledsoe is generally known as the pioneer of facial recognition. He set up a system which used a RAND tablet, a graphical computer input device, to analyse face images. Bledsoe had been using this instrument to manually record the coordinate locations of face characteristics such as a person’s lips, nose, eyes, and hairline.
How does facial recognition technology work
Before getting deep into facial recognition technology it is necessary to understand how this technology works.
Step 1- Face detection
A person’s image is captured from any snap or video. Face images may appear alone or in a group. It may appear as a person looking straight ahead or practically in profile in the photograph.
Step 2- Face analysis
An image is captured by the camera and analysed. It read the facial features which include the distance between your eyes and the distance from forehead to chin. A 2D image is most preferred for facial recognition.
Step 3- Converting the image to data
Based on a person’s facial features, face capture technology converts analogue information i.e. face into a set of digital information. The screening of the face is essentially reduced to a mathematical formula. Faceprint refers to the numerical code. Each person has their faceprint, similar to how thumbprints are unique.
Step 4- Finding a match
At this step, the face print is compared with the other facial data which is stored in the facial recognition database system.
In today’s scenario, this technology helps to increase public security, reduce time, and fast processing, provide good convenience and remove bias from stop and search. As this technology easily recognizes habitual offenders and criminals.
Assistance provided by the facial recognition technology
Passwords and pattern locks can easily be hacked by people whereas facial recognition can not be tracked as every person has unique features and all electronic gadgets scan the fingerprints, retinas or faces. It protects highly sensitive information.
Fast verification process
It gives a speedy and reliable process to verify the person’s identity at airports, banks, restaurants, hotels, schools or colleges etc. This recognition is very helpful to protect the public from threats at large.
As every person is in a hurry, this technology helps in locking doors, swiping cards at metro stations, shopping, paying bills etc, and registering to enter or exiting times of employees. No one can steal someone’s face, and every organisation can quickly and easily deploy this technology to improve operations.
Prevention against fraud and theft
In the banking industry, finance sector, or e-commerce they save all information relating to the financial transaction of every customer in their database and facial recognition technology gives accurate details of the customers. Hence it is very difficult to commit any fraud or theft.
Helpful in a criminal investigation
All intelligence agencies store the data of all the habitual criminals or offenders in their legal database. They can compare the offenders with existing records which is a less time-consuming process.
Some genetic illnesses that might generate unusual facial appearances can be diagnosed using facial recognition. These characteristics are detected by the technology, allowing a diagnosis for the patients. Though it is still in the early stages of development, it may someday replace conventional genetic testing because it is quicker and less expensive.
Better collection for images
It helps to save snaps or images of every person by recognizing their facial features and organises the precious moments of life in one place which can be easily accessible.
Issues with the facial recognition technology
Technology is advancing every day for the welfare of human beings but as every coin has two sides therefore every technology has some pros and cons as well. The most common issues of facial recognition technology are the followings:
Privacy and data security
Apart from the various advantages of facial recognition technology, the privacy of every person is the major issue. It collects the data of the person, monitors their activities etc which might be used. Nobody knows who is collecting their information and for which purpose. Opponents of this technology usually claim that this technique cannot be justified on the grounds of general privacy as we have no idea what happens with our data.
The technology is very helpful to catch the offenders or criminals but there are also chances that this technology might show some wrong information. Although technology is not always trustworthy, reliance only on it as a source of evidence can be exceedingly risky.
There are no exact regulations which talk about the provisions of facial recognition technology and there are countries which banned this technology in their territories such as San Francisco and Oakland in California. The trend is for widespread usage of facial recognition, and authorities are not keeping up.
Misidentifications are common, according to research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Errors can also be created by minor changes in camera angles or physical appearance.
Another issue of the technology is that this technology can not identify the colour of people. Facial recognition requires a dataset with a large number of samples. Unfortunately, the early implementations did not include enough people with a wide range of features.
Laws in India
Currently, in India, there is the Information Technology Act 2000 which covers electronic communications, transactions, and filing of records with government organisations. This law recognises digital and electronic signatures. Additionally, it guarantees the safety of digital documents and signatures. Unfortunately, the Information Technology Act does not provide any framework that deals with facial recognition. With the evolution of technology, cyber crimes are also increasing day by day. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in the past four years, cybercrimes have grown in number in the nation by a factor of 4 or 306%. 12,317 incidents of cybercrime were reported in 2016, while 50,035 cases were reported in 2020. In 2020, India would have reported 136 incidences of cybercrime every day.
The Indian Parliament has introduced a Data Protection Bill 2019 which talks about facial recognition laws. Facial image data, along with fingerprints, iris scans, or any other similar personal data resulting from measurements or technical processing operations carried out on physical, physiological, or behavioural characteristics of a data principal, which allow or confirm the unique identification of that natural person, falls under the definition of “biometric data” under Clause 3(7) of the bill.
Clause 35 of the bill provides power to the Central Government to exempt any agency- for the sake of India’s sovereignty and integrity, the state’s security, its relations with other countries, and public order; or for preventing a cognizable offence related to India’s sovereignty and integrity, the state’s security, cordial relations with other countries, or public order from being incited.
Whereas Clause 36, provides an exemption from the processing of personal data in the interests of prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of any offence or any other infraction of any law for the time being in effect.
The bill also provides provisions for establishing a Data Protection Authority (DPA) to protect sensitive and confidential data from any kind of infringement and also ensure efficient implementation of the bill. Clause 92 states that without the authorization of the Central Government no fiduciary data will be permitted as biometric data. Once this bill became law the government implemented the law pertaining to facial recognition technology.
In India, though there is no exact law on the technology, the Telegraph Act, of 1885 provides provisions for surveillance of all kinds of communication via electronic modes. Even the police and other intelligence agencies monitor the activities of the public. Section 31 of the Police Act, 1861 authorised police to keep records of public places such as roads, streets, resorts, or places of worship. As per the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 Section 69 and Section 69 B contains provisions which grant power to the state to collect, analyse, and decode digital information and data. Section 69 of the act imposes imprisonment and its term can be extended to seven years along with the fine, whereas under Section 69 B of the act if any person in charge or intermediary violates the conditions mentioned in the section are liable for imprisonment which may extend to three years and imposed fine also.
Challenges in India
The privacy of every individual is one of the key issues that are emerging as regulations for facial recognition is being developed. A fundamental right recognised by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is the right to privacy. The right to privacy was emphasised more by the Honourable Supreme Court in the case of Justice Puttaswamy v. Union of India and has since been recognised as fundamental freedom that may only be practised in accordance with the law. If no legal framework had been established, any deployment or use of such technology would be a breach of a person’s fundamental right to privacy. The Government must specifically keep in mind certain dimensions and aspects as it moves forward with the adoption of new technology.
In the case of People‘s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v. Union of India, the issue was raised of the surveillance of phone tapping of politicians by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Supreme Court pronounced that phone tapping is a violation of the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution unless any provision authorises it. In this case, the court analysed that phone tapping is allowed under Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act, 1885.
Nowadays facial recognition technology is getting more recognition. It can quickly and accurately analyse and identify a person’s face. Many developed countries ban facial recognition technology because the major challenge for the implementation of this technology is an infringement of the privacy of an individual but it can be resolved by developing strong software and must have proper laws for the implementation and rigorous punishment for the violation of those laws. This technology shall be legally approved, including provisions for the use of all biometric data, and people’s privacy must also be respected. Now we all are in the technology era and in the future, it is going to be developed more, therefore, the government must take the incentive to implement these technologies in our country. No technology is good or bad, it is about people who used it whether with bonafide or malafide intention.
- Facial Recognition Technology in India (projectstatecraft.org)
- The Benefits of Facial Recognition – Full List of Advantages (getsmarteye.com)
- Facial recognition in law enforcement is the litmus test for India’s commitment to “Responsible AI for All” | ORF (orfonline.org)
- Six Benefits of Facial Recognition Technology (thegeeksclub.com)
- India registered 136 cybercrime cases every day in 2020: NCRB data | Business Standard News (business-standard.com)
- facial-recognition-technology-in-india.pdf (cis-india.org)
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