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Bengaluru plans facial recognition gates at Namma Metro

Bengaluru plans facial recognition gates at Namma Metro

The Indian city of Bengaluru is planning to implement a facial recognition scheme to provide an alternative for the use of smart cards, tokens and commuter passes in all Namma Metro stations, Hindustan Times reports.

According to the report, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) is planning to install the system at automated fare collection gates throughout the Namma Metro network, enabling the gates to automatically open for passengers to walk through after identifying themselves at the facial recognition terminal.

As part of the implementation of this project, a partnership was signed recently between the BMRCL and Google’s parent company Alphabet which will see the latter enable real-time train movement using Google Maps, making it possible for commuters to know train locations no matter where they are. This will be possible thanks to data made available by the BMRCL.

The report also notes that Phase 2 works on the Namma Metro expansion project have been delayed due to unfavorable geological conditions, with authorities saying the tunneling works could go on for the next year and a half.

In the wake of the plans by the BMRCL to replace train passes with facial recognition, activists have voiced concerns about data privacy and safety, writes Times of India.

The outlet cites an Indian Twitter user as calling the move a “truly terrible idea,” while another Twitter user questions whether people will be compensated for being denied service as a result of facial recognition system failures, or whether the system will work for people with masks.

The report also quotes Internet Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, as saying the scheme “poses huge threats to the fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech and expression.”

However, countering some of these fears raised by activists, a BMRCL official told Times of India that the biometrics project is still in its early stages and will not be compulsory for all metro users.

The facial recognition system, the official adds, is meant for commuters who buy monthly tickets. “It’s a technological solution to prevent misuse of monthly passes as multiple passengers may travel at different times. Those who want to travel using regular tokens and smart cards can continue to do so,” said the official.

The deployment of facial recognition in public places in India including metro stations and for purposes of public security is gaining steady momentum.

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