CBSE India student facial 'matching' opacity

Occurred: October 2020

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India's Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced a facial recognition system so that students can access and download academic documents stored on DigiLocker - an Aadhaar-based cloud-based locker - without using ADHAAR and their phone numbers.

To access the documents, students have to verify their identities via 'Facial Recognition System, a so-called 'state of the art' facial recognition system provided by India's National e-Governance Division, that matches a human face from a facial dataset stored on a CBSE database.

The CBSE says it expects the system will 'immensely' help foreign students and those who are unable to use or open DigiLocker should they not have an Adhaar Card or use the wrong mobile number. 

However, as noted by MediaNama, the system did not have a privacy policy at launch. The CBSE later said its facial recognition system does not have a privacy policy because it is a 'simple face matching process', something confirmed in its response to a digital rights group Internet Freedom Foundation Right to Information (RTI) request.

This does not explain why the technology, which the CBSE refuses to provide information about, is described as a facial recognition system. The Internet Freedom Foundation describes the CBSE's 'face matching technology is just facial recognition in disguise.'

Operator: Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)
Developer: National e-Governance Division
Country: India
Sector: Education
Purpose: Access documents
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Privacy; Security
Transparency: Governance; Marketing; Privacy