Lucknow police plan to monitor 'women in distress' criticised

Occurred: January 2021

A plan by Lucknow police to monitor women’s expressions with facial recognition and emotion recognition to prevent street harassment met with stiff opposition. 

Lucknow police commissioner DK Thakur told The Times of India that authorities aim to install AI-enabled cameras at 200 'crime hotspots' across the city that will alert nearby police stations when they spot a woman's 'distress' due to harassment. The spots were determined by the 'presence of girls and women in the area,' and stalking and harassment complaints.

According to Reuters, digital rights activists are concerned the system is likely to be inaccurate and may lead to intrusive policing, surveillance against vulnerable sections of society, and privacy violations. Some feel it may also lead to over-policing in the areas where facial and emotion tracking technologies are being deployed.

Lucknow police also stood accused of inadequate transparency by failing to consult with the public, and by providing the public with inadequate information on how the technology works, how data is stored, and who can access the data. 

Privacy was declared to be a fundamental right by India's Supreme Court in a landmark ruling in 2017. 

Operator: Lucknow Police Commissionerate
Developer: Staqu Technologies

Country: India

Sector: Govt - police

Purpose: Reduce sexual harrassment

Technology: CCTV; Facial recognition; Emotion recognition; Automated license plate/number recognition (ALPR/ANPR)
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Privacy; Surveillance

Transparency: Governance; Black box; Privacy

Research, advocacy 🧮

Page info
Type: Issue
Published: January 2023
Last updated: November 2023