Indian government plans expansion of biometric database for law enforcement

India’s Ministry of Home Affairs is planning to propose increased fingerprint collection for use in its Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), which could also eventually integrate facial and iris recognition, The Indian Express reports.

Only one thousand of India’s 15,500 police stations remain to be linked with the system in its first phase, and the Ministry of Home Affairs next plans to integrate the database of the Central Finger Print Bureau (CFPB) and implement NIST Fingerprint Image Software. The CFPB currently uses an AFIS called FACTS, which sources told the Express is similar to technology once used but long-since updated by the FBI.

“The idea is that integration of fingerprint database, face recognition software and iris scans will massively boost the police department’s crime investigation capabilities. It will also help civilian verification when needed. No one will be able to get away with a fake ID,” said a home ministry official.

The CFPB database currently holds fingerprints of approximately a million individuals, but is expected to triple in size as data from state fingerprint bureaus is added. The National Informatics Centre is developing a cloud solution to support the integration.

The program cannot leverage the Aadhaar system, as the UIDAI recently confirmed that the use of its data by law enforcement is prohibited by the Aadhaar Act.

The Express notes that information collected at local police “chowkis” must make its way to central stations, often slowly due to challenging environmental and infrastructure conditions, before being entered into the database, which can hamper investigations.

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