The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) has shared more details about Project Panoptic, a new watchdog initiative that is being set up to ensure that government agencies in India remain transparent and accountable when using facial recognition. The organization believes that the Indian government has tried to avoid that accountability in the past, noting that there are now more than 30 government projects that use or are planning to use the technology.
With Project Panoptic, the IFF is trying to make sure that the Indian public is informed about all of those government initiatives, especially when the use of facial recognition is not well publicized. The Project is intended to serve as a public resource, and will exist as an online dashboard that consolidates all of the information that the IFF has obtained about various facial recognition programs.
The website will include an interactive map that shows visitors where facial recognition is being used at federal, state, and municipal levels, and will supplement that with case studies and details about each deployment. Most of the information has been gathered through Right to Information requests, and while the IFF filed many of those requests on its own, the new website will also allow regular users to submit any information they may have about those projects. That information will then be catalogued by the IFF.
The IFF has asked for a three-year moratorium on facial recognition to give the government time to pass more meaningful data protection legislation. The organization has also asked the government to halt the tender process for a sweeping facial recognition database intended for law enforcement and surveillance applications. Indian police are already using facial recognition to make arrests, most notably when they used the technology to round up more than 1,100 protesters in New Delhi earlier this year.
Project Panoptic was put together with the volunteer assistance of DataKind Bangalore and Frappe. The Project will debut on November 27.
November 26, 2020 – by Eric Weiss