Delhi government schools accused of facial recognition 'privacy abuse'

Occurred: March 2021

Facial recognition technologies were quietly being used in at least a dozen schools in New Delhi, India, opening the authorities to accusations of 'overreach' and privacy abuse. 

The installation of the facial recognition technology by government-funded schools was discovered through a Right to Information query filed with the Directorate of Education in December 2020 by digital rights organisation the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF). 

According to the IFF, the Government of Delhi failed to inform its various stakeholders about which company had supplied the hardware and software, what the system was for, how it worked, and how the personal data of students and employees was managed.

The facial recognition systems were installed without laws to regulate the collection and use of data. India proposed a national privacy law in July 2018, though it still remained in draft early 2023. 

The move followed a 2019 decision by the Delhi government to mount CCTV cameras in over 700 public schools with the aim of ensuring the safety of students, and to reduce truancy.

Operator: Government of Delhi
Country: India
Sector: Education
Purpose: Verify student identity
Technology: CCTV; Facial recognition; Facial matching
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Appropriateness/need; Privacy; Security; Surveillance
Transparency: Governance; Marketing; Privacy

Page info
Type: Issue
Published: January 2023