Why India must resist facial recognition tech

Mishi Choudhary & Eben Moglen
Facial recognition has become a cause for concern in western democracies. The European Commission is considering imposing a five-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies in the European Union (EU). In the United States (US), municipalities have passed, or are considering passing prohibitions, and California is considering a similar legislation. This alarm is justified. India, however, is rushing to adopt public facial recognition without any legal restraint, and discussion. Recently, former minister of state for civil aviation, Jayant Sinha, celebrated the launch of DigiYatra, endorsing the omnipresent use of facial recognition in airports where someone’s face would suffice as the boarding pass. Not to be left behind, the Telangana State Election Commission announced the use of facial recognition in Medchal Malkajgiri district to counter impersonation by voters in a forthcoming municipal election. Sinha asserted that DigiYatra was General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-compliant, which would be enough to protect the privacy of Indian citizens. The GDPR 2016/679 is a regulation in the EU law on data protection and privacy to protect European citizens. It doesn’t talk about rights of Indian citizens and its applicability in this context is unclear. (To be contd)