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State Police in India Armed with Face Scanning Mobile App

Police in the Indian state of Telangana are now using mobile facial recognition technology in the field.

The new system is designed to let police use a mobile app to scan the faces of suspected criminals, unidentified bodies at crime scenes, missing children, or other individuals. Those scans are then compared against images from the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems database for identification.

Announcing the system at a press conference, Telangana’s Director-General of Police, M. Mahendar Reddy, said that in implementing it the police “want to send a message to criminals” that they will be caught. “Ultimately, our objective is to improve standards of safety and security to achieve a crime free society,” he added.

In implementing the system, Telangana’s police may be wading into a growing global debate over police use of biometric technology. In the West – particularly the US and the UK – such practices have started to run up against serious ethical and civil rights concerns. India is a different context, of course, and one in which the use of biometric technology in general is prevalent thanks to the country’s Aadhaar ID program, so it remains to be seen how much criticism or acclaim this new system will receive.