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NtechLab supplies facial recognition for Indian Railways, but privacy legislation still pending

NtechLab supplies facial recognition for Indian Railways, but privacy legislation still pending
 

NtechLab is implementing a facial recognition surveillance project in India intended to monitor the movement of train commuters, but civil society activists are warning this could lead to a reduction of certain civil freedoms.

According to the Financial Times (FT), the biometric project is being undertaken by Indian Railways – the body managing the urban train travel system in the country.

The deployment of the biometric surveillance system has reached the installation of nearly 500 facial recognition surveillance cameras and has already been active for about one month now in 30 of the busiest train stations in the western states Gujarat and Maharashtra, including Mumbai.

Andrey Telenkov, CEO of NtechLab, told FT that apart from its ability to accurately recognize up to 50 persons in a single frame including those with face masks, the surveillance system can also help in the identification of criminals through live footage tracking, as well as identify missing persons. The official said it was one of the most technically challenging surveillance projects NtechLab has executed, due to the volume of people whose images it processes.

NtechLab is deploying its facial recognition surveillance platform in several Russian cities and public security systems.

The company recently announced an update to its suite of computer vision and biometric software.

Facial recognition expands ahead of legal protections

The railway security system is expected to monitor millions of Indian commuters on a daily basis, and is one of about 40 projects funded by the government expanding the use of video surveillance and facial recognition across many sectors of the country.

India is in the midst of tendering contracts several large-scale facial recognition systems, including one to ensure the legitimacy of academic examinations, and a long-delayed tender for the implementation of an integrated country-wide system dubbed the National Automated Facial Recognition system.

The country’s Personal Data Protection Bill, however, is stalled in parliament, leaving the country without assurances about how biometrics and other data collected will be used.

Those raising concerns about the rail system say they fear it could violate people’s privacy and curtail their civil liberties, and authorities could use it to find and arrest protesters. This was the case recently when the police used a similar facial recognition system, known as Trinetra, to arrest a thousand farmers who were involved in an anti-government demonstration, writes FT.

NtechLab opens Abu Dhabi office

Meanwhile, as part of plans to expand its facial recognition system, the Russian company has announced the opening of a Gulf representative office in Abu Dhabi.

According to a company statement, the new office will facilitate NtechLab’s expansion into the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia markets with its new FindFace Multi product.

FindFace Multi, the company says, is designed to recognize faces and silhouettes of people and vehicles through real-time video feeds.

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