Facial recognition will be used to spot history sheeters and missing people only, assures Home Ministry


  • The Automated Facial Recognition technology by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be rolled out next year to aid law enforcement agencies.
  • The technology will be used only to trace identities of people featuring in Crime & Criminal Tracking Network Systems(CCTNS) — the national database of crime and criminals.
  • India has over 700,000 missing cases filed — including 98,000 children.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, on Thursday, clarified that the Automated Facial Recognition technology will only be used to trace identities of people featuring in Crime & Criminal Tracking Network Systems (CCTNS) — the national database of crime and criminals.

This technique of identifying a person via digital image by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is aimed to aid law enforcement agencies with a tool to track missing identities, criminals and unidentified victims.

The process of mapping photos of missing people is still done at police stations in India — but manually. As of now, the country has over 700,000 missing cases — including 98,000 children.

The Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) project, formulated under CCTNS, is planned to be operational next year, the Ministry noted. Presently, the database has nearly 15,000 police stations linked to it for e-governance.

Threat to privacy

The proposed AFRS has stirred a debate over the privacy of citizens. The system will be capable of capturing faces via CCTV feeds, and will raise alerts on blacklisted identities.

Keeping in mind the potential chances of violation of privacy, the Ministry official said, “This software will be used only in respect of such persons who figure on the CCTNS database — accused persons, prisoners, missing persons, unidentified people including children and dead bodies — and will not be used for any other database.”

Data associated with the facial recognition system will only be accessible to the law enforcement agencies, Times of India reported.

The move will help speed up police and other investigations. For instance, fingerprint matching is widely used at crime spots to identify criminals. Now, the ministry roped in the imaging feature to help them with video footage and images of suspects.

This will keep suspects and criminals from fleeing, thereby helping the investigation teams to trace a culprit faster.

Global adoption

China deployed the technology in smarter ways to safeguard the streets by introducing facial recognition to CCTV cameras on roads.

Food chain KFC too adopted the technology to predict customer demands. While other consumer-focussed platforms use Automatic Facial Recognition to ease the paying process by bringing in ‘smile to pay’ system that recognises facial expressions of customers.

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