India is experiencing a trend in the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces, although research has shown the technology to be biased and inaccurate.

Systems equipped with facial recognition technology are currently being implemented at six airports in India – Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Varanasi and Vijayawada, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, General Vijay Kumar Singh, said in response to a parliamentary session question by MPs Manoj Kotak and Raksha Khadse from BJP Lok Sabha.

Singh said: “The project is currently in the testing phase and will be implemented gradually at other airports after successful completion.” He added that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will invest around 25,000 crores in the expansion and development of existing and new terminals with modern technology over the next 4 to 5 years.

Why is it important? Lately the government has has pushed for facial recognition technology to be implemented in various locations including examination centers and train stations. It is important to note that these programs are carried out when India does not enact laws regulating the use of personal data. That Personal data protection law, which could be introduced in the winter session of parliament grants exemptions for government agencies. FRT has also been criticized for being imprecise when used by colored people.

Face recognition technology at train stations

IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had previously announced that of 983 stations, FRT work had only been completed at 310 stations. These stations were selected four years ago to come under video surveillance with facial recognition.

  • The project uses four types of HD cameras: dome-type for indoor areas, bullet-type for platforms, pan-tilt-zoom type for parking lots and Ultra HD 4k cameras for important locations.
  • The data collected is stored for 30 days for reproduction, analysis and research purposes. The minister added that “important videos” can be stored longer; however, no details have been given about what important videos are.

The South Western Railway also had asserts that these systems were “successful” in demonstrating “100% face detection” and “100% accuracy of match” when the project started on a pilot basis in Bengaluru.

FRT inaccurate in detecting colored people: study

Despite claims that FRT systems have a 100 percent success rate in identifying people who: a to learn Performed by tech policy researchers, tested four FRT tools (Amazon’s Rekognition, Microsoft Azure’s Face, Face ++, and FaceX) and found the following:

  • The facial recognition tools were able to identify far more Indian women than Indian men.
  • Of the 32,000 faces that were part of the study database, over 2,000 Indian women were misidentified.
  • The error rate was highest at Microsoft, which could not recognize a little more than 1,000 Indian faces.
  • Made by a Bengaluru-based company, FaceX has misidentified the gender of Indian women 11% of the time and 1.35% of the time for men. It also failed to recognize over 800 Indian faces.

Full text of question and answer:

Question:

(a) whether the government has proposed any new high-tech improvements in the country’s civil aviation sector, and if so, details of them; and

(b) whether the government has taken any steps in this regard, particularly in Maharashtra state, and if so, what details?

Reply:

(a) and (b) Yes sir. The government has and will continue to take high-tech measures to improve the country’s civil aviation sector, some of which are as follows:

  1. The Digi Yatra policy was published by the Department of Civil Aviation in August 2018. This initiative aims to enable contactless, seamless and paperless handling of passengers at airports from the entrance gate of the terminal to the entry point. At six airports – Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Varanasi and Vijayawada – work was awarded to implement the biometric boarding system (BBS) using facial recognition technology. The project is in the testing phase. After successful completion, this will gradually be implemented at other airports in the country .;
  2. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to invest around Rs. 25,000 crores in the next 4-5 years for the expansion / development of existing and new terminals with modern technology.

iii. The modernization of the air traffic control infrastructure was taken up.

  1. Route rationalization in Indian airspace is being carried out in coordination with the Indian Air Force, using modern air traffic flow management techniques to develop shorter flight routes and lower fuel consumption for airlines.
  2. The increased use of digital technologies is being promoted at the air freight terminals in order to increase efficiency and shorten dwell times.
  3. eGovernance is enabled at the Directorate-General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Civil Aviation Security Bureau (BCAS) for most interactions with stakeholders and internal processes. ;;

vii. The DGCA is planning an online “on-demand test” for flight cadets to increase the number of licensed pilots in the country.

The government’s technology initiatives are spread across all states, including Maharashtra. Pune Airport is one of six airports across the country that have been shortlisted for trials to implement Biometric Boarding System (BBS) with facial recognition technology.

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