Facial Recognition Technology

Q. Explain how facial recognition technology works. What are the concerns associated with it? What are its applications?



  • GS Prelims, GS Mains paper III
  • Science and technology, Facial recognition technology

What is Facial recognition technology?

  • It is defined as a biometric technology that uses distinctive features on the face to identify and distinguish an individual.
  • A facial recognition system is a technology capable of identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source.
  • Facial recognition has evolved in many ways — from looking at 3D contours of a face to recognising skin patterns.

What are the various techniques used in Facial recognition?

  1. Traditional
  2. 3-Dimensional recognition
  3. Skin texture analysis
  4. Thermal cameras
  5. Other combination techniques

What are the concerns of using this technology?

  • Concerns over the loss of privacy, and fears that the state may be unwilling or incapable of protecting this fundamental right of citizens.
  • Given the fact that the technology continues to have a not-insignificant error rate, punitive state action based on such profiling could lead to grave miscarriages of justice.
  • Governments may misuse this technology to conduct mass surveillance of citizens. Regardless of whether or not they have committed a crime, in general people do not wish to have their every action watched or track.
  • Some companies are misusing this technology to track customers and their choices & preferences.

Application of Facial recognition technology:

  • Security of offices and devices.
  • Identification of crime suspects by the police.
  • Idenification of lost persons.
  • Facebook gives tag suggestions for the pictures of people automatically by using this technology (Facebook DeepFace).

Where does India stand?

  • There is massive potential for both the use and misuse of facial recognition technology in India.
  • This is because the country has the largest verified biometric database of faces in the world, thanks to the Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) efforts to capture the data of as many citizens as possible. With UIDAI opening up its face recognition API, the same can be used as an additional verification method for financial or other transactions.
  • At the same time, the system can, unless strong checks are put in place, be subject to massive abuse or misuse.

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