Telangana HC notices to government, Hyderabad police chief over use of facial recognition tech

A PIL was filed in the Telangana HC challenging the deployment of facial recognition tech without any valid law on various grounds including violation of right to privacy, rule of law and equality.

Published: 04th January 2022 07:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th January 2022 07:54 AM   |  A+A-

Telangana High Court (File Photo | EPS)

Telangana High Court (File Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The High Court of Telangana on Monday issued notices to the state government and the Hyderabad Commissioner of Police seeking their response in a PIL challenging the Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) deployed without any valid law, for various law enforcement and welfare purposes on different grounds, including the violation of right to privacy, rule of law and equality. 

The PIL, which was filed by Hyderabad-based social activist SQ Masood, was heard by the bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Abhinand Kumar Shavili.

The petitioner contended that on May 19, 2021 police officials stopped him near Shahran Burqa Market and took his photograph without his consent.

Petitioner says he got no response from CP on FTR

The petitioner said he was neither an accused in any crime and committed any infraction nor issued any challan. Subsequently, he wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Police seeking information and further requesting deletion of his personal data, but received no response. He further contended that the continued use of facial recognition technology by the police violates the privacy of individuals, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in the Aadhaar Judgment.

The petitioner also contended that the FRT refers to technology that involves processing digital images of individuals. Faces for verification or identification of those individuals, by extracting data points from a face and then comparing it across the two sets of images. Deployment of FRT may be overt and consensual, where this can be seen being used for verification across contexts such as accessing a smartphone device or entering a secure establishment. He further contended that the state has been deploying various agencies since 2018 for implementing FRT in the state.

Citing various media reports, he said that the installation of CCTVs at various places was one among them. states in coordination with the Union Home Ministry are implementing Crime and Criminal Tracking Networking and systems across the nation, he said.

The Commissioner of Police contributes to the CCTNS which is maintained by the Ministry of Home Affairs. CCTNS inter alia, consists of a national database with biometrics of persons apprehended by state and Central Law Enforcement agencies. The data storage and retention policies in these databases are not known to the public and are not backed by law. Describing this as unlawful because there is no law that supports them to do this, the petitioner said that his efforts to extract replies from Hyderabad police through RTI proved futile.


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