Facial Recognition: The Ugly Face of a Crime-Prevention Strategy

admin November 4, 2021
Updated 2021/11/05 at 6:09 AM

National Automated Facial Recognition System (NAFRS)

India approved the deployment of the National Automated Facial Recognition System to provide information technology to the Indian police. It will serve as a national search platform that will employ facial recognition technology to aid in criminal investigations or to identify a person of interest (such as a criminal) regardless of face masks, cosmetics, plastic surgery, beards, or hair extensions. Through a database of driver’s licence or police mugshots, the system compares the faceprint created with a huge existing database of faceprints (usually available to law enforcement authorities).

Criticism of National Automated Facial Recognition System

The right to privacy will be impacted since NAFRS will collect, process, and retain sensitive private information: face biometrics for lengthy periods of time, if not forever. Facial recognition does not produce a definite answer; it merely ‘identifies’ or ‘verifies’ in probabilities (for example, a 70% likelihood). Though contemporary machine-learning algorithms have increased the accuracy of face recognition over time, the danger of mistake and prejudice still persists. According to research, facial recognition software is based on models that have been pre-trained. As a result, if particular types of faces (such as females, children, and ethnic minorities) are under-represented in training datasets, the performance of the algorithm will suffer. Facial recognition can result in profiling of some overrepresented groups (such as Dalits and minorities) in the criminal justice system due to inaccuracy and bias. NAFRS is said to fail the Puttaswamy Judgement’s three tests: legitimacy (supported by law), proportional to its necessity, and least restrictive. Unrestricted use of face recognition technology would deter independent journalism, as well as the freedom to peaceful assembly and other forms of civic activity. Because policing and law and order are state matters, several Indian states have begun to utilise new technology without fully understanding the risks.


To prevent exploitation and abuse, the government must create a strong and significant data protection law, in addition to formal approval of NAFRS and deployment standards.

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