Thursday, April 9, 2020

Govt uses Aadhaar, driver's license, voter ID databases for facial recognition

The AFRS (Automated Facial Recognition System) project was first announced by the Home Ministry of India in 2018, to identify missing individuals, criminals and bodies that remained unidentified in a scientific manner.
  • The AFRS is a unit of CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems).
  • CCTNS is the national database of criminals and crimes.
  • Only those people who appeared on the database of the CCTNS were to be tracked using this software.
  • They include adults/children who were found but remained unidentified.
  • Prisoners, accused, missing individuals.
  • The dead who remained unidentified.
  • The photograph of the missing individual/suspect will be matched with the photographs stored on CCTNS database.
  • Earlier the ministry decided to not use the software on any other database.

How Does AFRS Work?

  • The face within an image is detected and extracted.
  • Each face gets converted to a vector.
  • Each vector has 512 values.
  • In a database chosen the closest distance between 2 vectors gets calculated by the software.
  • The closest match will be considered accurate.

Accuracy Of Facial Recognition System

  • There have been instances where the Facial Recognition System matched the photos of missing boys with that of missing girls.
  • The accuracy was less than 1%.
  • The standing counsel of the central government for MWCD (Ministry of Women and Child Development) made this clear in the court in 2019.
  • Earlier in 2018 Rahul Mehra, the Delhi Police Counsel, had made it clear in the Delhi High Court that the Facial Recognition Software was not reliable.
  • This was being used to trace missing women from an agency operating illegally.
  • The accuracy was just 2% and not reliable.

On the 11th of March 2020 the Home Minister of India, Amit Shah, said that software for facial recognition is being used by the government to identify the perpetrators behind the Delhi riots. This was revealed by the minister while speaking in the Lok Sabha. The Delhi riots broke out during February 2020.

The Minister said that several footages and photographs of the Delhi riots were sent to the Delhi Police by the people living there. These photographs and footages were compared to the data stored by the government. The existing data fed into the facial recognition software include the data from the individual’s driving license, Election ID card data, and other data stored by the government.

Mr Amit Shah said that this has helped the government to identify more than 1100 people involved in the Delhi riots. This statement was soon followed by a controversy over the social media saying that data on the Aadhaar was being used in the software for facial recognition.

Establishing Identity Using Aadhaar 

The Aadhaar issued by the UIDAI has a unique identification number along with the biometric and demographic information of an Indian citizen. The process where the biometric information and the demographic details of an individual along with the Aadhaar number are submitted to the UIDAI to confirm his/her identity is referred to as Aadhaar Authentication. Aadhaar eKYC allows you to establish the identity of an individual online. Aadhaar eKYC process allows you to do paperless verification to establish the identity of an individual.

The Home Minister denied the claims of using Aadhaar data in the software for facial recognition. Mr Shah stated that he has not violated the guidelines of the Supreme Court on privacy. He said that the facial images from the Election ID card and Driving License were used for facial recognition and not Aadhaar data.

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