India plans facial recognition tool to detect faces with masks, sparking privacy concerns

A government-sponsored facial recognition surveillance system, billed as India’s largest such effort to date, is proposing to detect faces when covered with masks, or even modified by plastic surgery.

According to a fresh tender issued last week by the National Crime Records Bureau, a body under the Home Ministry, the surveillance tool will process more than a crore facial images, and will also integrate with existing centralised crime databases like CCTNS. The requirement to detect faces with masks comes despite several studies repeatedly showing.

The Delhi-based digital rights group Internet Freedom Foundation called the system “Illegal”, emphasising that facial recognition systems in the country currently have no basis in law.


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