Facial recognition standalone tool use to prevent crime: Hyderabad police to HC

Hyderabad: Hyderabad Police commissioner CV Anand in an affidavit has told the Telangana High Court that facial recognition systems (FRS) are a standalone tool used to prevent and detect crimes for public safety and legal under various provisions of law.

The justification came after SQ Masood, a resident of the Old City of Hyderabad, filed a petition in High Court alleging privacy infringement.

His plea stated that the FRS is linked with CCTV cameras installed in public places and is used for near-permanent surveillance of the public at large.

The petitioner alleged that his photograph, clicked by police personnel during the COVID-19 lockdown would be misused.

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CV Anand in response to the petition filed an affidavit in the court justifying that they are empowered to conduct regular checking for preventing suspicious activities in society to maintain law and order.

The commissioner while denying all the allegations said that despite the access of this offender database being forwarded to all state police, it comes with inbuilt safeguards.

FRS involves the identification of criminals or suspect by comparing the face of a person moving under suspicious circumstances or suspected of committing an offence or with a database of arrested offenders, convicted criminals, wanted persons, missing persons, and even children.

The tool is crucial to prevent the commission of cognizable offences under Section 149 CrPC. Thus, it is wrong to say that FRS is illegal or unknown to the law, the affidavit said.

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Anand disclosed that FRS has an automatic inbuilt mechanism to record details of every individual who logs in to the CCTNS database as well as the activities undertaken by him after logging in.

The data is stored in the central database of the CCTNS, maintained by the Central government, he added.

“FRS does not infringe on the right to privacy of people at large…There is no mass surveillance… The FRS tool is not linked to the CCTV network in the state, as alleged in the petition,” the affidavit said.

Police further denied collecting any personal data of the petitioner, adding that all the activities under the FRS are guided by the Prisoners Act, of 1920 and the Criminal Procedure Identification Act, of 2022.

Anand also said, “we don’t use FRS as it amounts to a human rights violation.”