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We are unbiased in use of data and nobody is surveilled without consent: KTR on facial recognition in Hyderabad

There have been widespread concerns regarding the usage of facial recognition in Hyderabad in governance and for surveillance.

May 24, 2022 / 07:28 PM IST

Telangana's IT and Industries minister KT Rama Rao defended the usage of facial recognition in the State and claimed that the government is unbiased in the use of data and that nobody is surveilled without consent.

Speaking on the use of artificial intelligence by governments at a panel discussion of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Rao said, "Big challenge in using technologies like Facial Recognition coupled with AI, is for us to be able to gain citizens’ confidence that the government is unbiased in their use of data & citizens are not surveilled unless they have been notified."

The usage of facial recognition in Telangana, for surveillance and in governmental usage, has garnered criticism due to concerns of privacy. Recently, a petition was filed by Hyderabad-based activist SQ Masood in Telangana High Court regarding the usage of facial recognition in the State. The issue of facial recognition in the city was also taken up by Amnesty International in a campaign called Ban the Scan – Hyderabad.

Rao said to gain confidence among citizens regarding the usage of facial recognition, the regulatory powers of each government organisation will have to be clearly identified. “These powers must be given to them in a parliamentary and a fully transparent method,” Minister KTR said.

Emphasising on making the process transparent, Rao stated that governments' plans to use facial recognition need to be shared with the public first before it is used by government bodies. This needs to be formally bestowed upon them following the rules of democracy, he added.

"If you use a consensual method, if you ensure that citizens actually are given a choice of consent, and then also ensure that the government and officials in the government are aware, and their access to data is also limited then I think it's a win-win solution," Rama Rao said.

The other members of the panel discussion included Takayuki Morita, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Representative Director, NEC, Japan, Angie Nicole OD, Executive Director Ushahidi, South Africa, and Coen van Oostrom, CEO & Founder of Edge Tech.

Apart from facial recognition, Telangana is also the most surveilled state in India, with 282,558 CCTV cameras installed as of January 1, 2021, according to data from the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD). Tamil Nadu is a distant second with 150,254 CCTV cameras.
Aihik Sur
first published: May 24, 2022 07:28 pm