Fingerprint biometric attendance systems suspended in India as impacts of coronavirus considered

Fingerprint biometric attendance systems suspended in India as impacts of coronavirus considered

Businesses in India are being told to suspend contact-based biometric time and attendance systems to prevent the spread of covid-19, Telangana Today reports.

State and local governments in the country have issued a series of protocols, including a halt to fingerprint employee-tracking systems, possibly replaced with a card-based system or facial recognition, after a tech worker in Hyderabad tested positive for the virus.

The Hyderabad Police Commissionerate called together the IT heads of nearly 200 companies to provide them with Standard Operating Procedure guidance, which includes instructions on what to do if a case is detected among employees. Likewise, the Delhi government private companies and municipal corporations to stop using biometric attendance systems, according to the Economic Times.

But can facial recognition replace fingerprint identification if people are wearing masks?

Chinese company Wisesoft says it has developed a 3D facial recognition system in partnership with a research team from Sichuan University that can identify people wearing masks with 98 percent accuracy and collect body temperature, reports China Daily.

A hospital in Chengdu has deployed 140 units of the product already, and Wisesoft says it plans to produce 1,000 more units over the next two months.

Other companies, including SenseTime and Telpo also claim to have developed facial biometric technology that works despite masks partially occluding the faces of subjects.

Constant surveillance in the name of outbreak containment presents a risk of normalizing pervasive state surveillance, digital rights experts are warning. Reuters interviewed several experts in big data, governance, and digital rights. They express concern that the appropriate mechanisms for preventing emergency measures from being repurposed for political and social control are not present in some countries.

Access Now Asia Policy Director Raman Jit Singh Chima says the use of facial recognition for specific purposes at airports may be justified, but indefinite storage of health, travel, and other data is illegitimate.

An international conference in Singapore contributed significantly to the spread of the coronavirus, and the country has implemented contact tracking, with detailed logs of people’s movements and interactions, in order to find undiagnosed cases and carry out preventative quarantine procedures. China and Russia have also implemented strict controls over personal movement.

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