RTI filed on government use of ‘facial recognition’ in airports, Covid-19 vaccination

RTI filed on government use of ‘facial recognition’ in airports, Covid-19 vaccination. The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), a non-governmental organization promoting digital freedom, on Wednesday published its April Right to Information (RTI) report in April. The group sought to disclose to various spheres of government regarding the use of ‘surveillance’ technology, which is reportedly being used at various airports across India, and in government plans to use this technology in a ‘non-invasive’ vaccination process.

The IFF is also openly monitoring the violation of free speech, and sought to respond to the institution via Twitter by removing 50 posts from its site last month at the request of the government. Most of these gaps were related to the government’s handling of the Covid-19 epidemic, and the foundation sought a response from the government on “cybercrime.”

The foundation, which runs campaigns to protect online privacy and data privacy, said it had filed six RTI applications this month, related to recently launched government projects. “Under the IFF Project Panoptic, we regularly apply for RTI applications to various community officials after meeting with media reports that they are developing or using recognition technology,” the IFF report said.

RTI filed on government use of 'facial recognition' in airports, Covid-19 vaccination
RTI filed on government use of ‘facial recognition’ in airports, Covid-19 vaccination

According to the Internet Freedom Foundation, RTI calls for transparency in the government’s use of ‘recognition’ technology in relation to five different public projects. This is as follows:

  1. The Unique Identification Authority of India which are now on their plans for a ‘touchless’ vaccination process which will be done with Aadhaar-based facial recognition.
  2. The National Health Authority are on their plans for a ‘touchless’ vaccination process, with the help of the Aadhaar-based facial recognition.
  3. The Airports Authority of India are also on their use of facial recognition technology at the Varanasi Airport.
  4. Also Another RTI request on the AAI on their use of facial recognition technology at the Vijayawada Airport.
  5. Finally, one more RTI is requested on the AAI for their use of facial recognition technology at the Pune Airport.

It was also reported that work was underway at the Varanasi and Pune airports to install the automated passenger-based facial recognition systems and also that the government says that they will ensure the hassle-free movement of travellers from entry to boarding points. He also said that the government says walk-through security scanners, once capable of identifying passengers by their faces, will also make the entry into the airport faster and also to make sure that the automated check-ins without the requirement of any paper-based intervention. He said that also the details of the passengers that were being provided at the time of booking tickets will also be examined digitally through the help of their Aadhaar numbers.

In the RTI applications that was given out, the Internet Freedom Foundation has demanded to know the specific purposes for which the facial recognition technology will be used by the government entities, the legislation which authorises them to do so, and the total expenditure incurred to procure such technology. The IFF has also sought a bunch of other information which also includes the list of the persons who are authorised to access the technology, the software and hardware being used, and details of the database.

Complete details on the RTI requests can be found on the official website of the Internet Freedom Foundation.

Moreover, one more RTI request was also filed with the department of agriculture, cooperation and with the farmers welfare on the memorandum of understanding with Microsoft for a pilot project in 100 villages of six states.

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