The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has proposed to roll out Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) to track criminals, missing people and unidentified bodies.
- NCRB has recently invited bids for AFRS.
- It is a component of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) being implemented by the NCRB.
- CCTNS is a database of criminals and crimes and it has linkages with over 15000 police stations.
- The AFRS will add another dimension to the investigations which were predominantly based on fingerprint matching to track criminals.
- Now digital photos or video footages will aid in the investigation that too at a quick pace.
- So far, matching of photographs is done manually and it is time consuming.
- Many questions are being raised on the privacy of the people tracked by AFRS.
- The officials say that the system will track only criminals, missing people, children and unidentified bodies.
- In CCTNS database there are 7.71 lakh cases of missing persons including 98,000 children.
- The data gathered from AFRS will be used only by the authorised law enforcement agencies.
- It will capture images from CCTV feed and match it with a blacklisted image and generate alerts.
- Using the tool, the police can identify a missing child with the image of the child in the database.
- As per officials, the tool will help identify many missing persons and reunite them with their families.
- Also, if a person is arrested for a crime, his image can be scanned on the CCTNS for past crime records making it difficult for such criminals to create false identities.
Though the intended use of AFRS is benign in nature, there is a possible misuse of the tool for personal gains by people within the system. Stringent rules in accessing the database is a must. Also, appropriate monitoring of the database is needed. NCRB should also look into cyberattacks that might happen to steal the data.
Tools like AFRS are good to thwart crimes, but it raises the question of country becoming a surveillance state.