IFF's Project Panoptic - Origin Story

Hi, today I am going to tell you the story of IFF’s Project Panoptic. Read on to know why it started, what we did and how it’s going.

We first came across the use of Facial Recognition Technology in New Delhi during the December 2019 protests.

However, our research showed us that use of facial recognition was rampant across the country.

This technology, which poses serious privacy concerns, was being deployed across the country without any legal framework in place to regulate it.

Then, we looked at how other countries are approaching this dilemma.

Our research on specific projects made us worry about possible fundamental rights violations.

Then, we wrote to the National Crime Records Bureau to ask them to halt their ongoing tender process for the National Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) which is purported to be the “World’s biggest face recognition system”.

Spoiler Alert: They did not.

Through our Right to Information work, we detailed how the Delhi Police is already using the technology illegally.

Then, we sent NCRB a legal notice asking them to recall the Request for Proposals for AFRS.

Spoiler Alert: They didn’t.

We were cognizant of the fact that our concerns over use of facial recognition technology may not receive much response from the government. Thus, we started developing Project Panoptic early this year. Through Project Panoptic, we aim to bring transparency and accountability to the development and deployment of these projects across the country.