Agency criticized for blocking Indian firms from national biometric facial recognition system tender

The conditions contained in a tender for India’s Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) make it practically impossible for local firms to qualify, instead restricting it to larger multinational companies, The Quint reports.

The RFP was issued by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) earlier in the month. Attendees of a pre-bid conference organized by the agency suggested that standards, experience, and certification requirements will rule out most Indian companies, and an executive of a prospective bidder told The Quint that it is surprising Indian startups would be blocked, given the government’s claimed emphasis on their importance.

Companies bidding are expected to have an annual turnover of at least one billion rupees (US$15 million) in each of the three last fiscal years, with positive net worth in each, and have successfully completed at least three AFRS installations with databases of at least a million entries in the past ten years. They must also employ at least 50 full time computer professionals, and make an Earnest Money Deposit of four million rupees ($60,000). Past experience is weighted at nearly 30 percent of the evaluation.

Attendees of the event suggested that the best algorithm should be prioritized, and requested details on the experience requirements, such as whether details covered by strong non-disclosure agreements would need to be shared. Some also complained about the use of NIST standards, and preference for vendors that have participated in NIST’s FRVT.

NCRB Deputy Director A. Mohan Krishna responded to the latter feedback that the requirement is meant to ensure system interoperability.

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