Resisting Face Surveillance with Copyright Law

An interesting article that I came across. The author argues that while there have been some good faith actions taken by private companies for resisting misuse of facial recognition technology, like placing a moratorium on the use by police, we cannot rely on the good intentions of companies or the whims of legislators to protect ourselves. Thus, she suggests using copyright law to dissuade facial recognition companies from “unauthorized copies and reproductions of photographs”.

Do you think this approach would work in India? (The article is US oriented)


Hi @Anushka ,

Thanks for kicking off an important discussion!

Not being a lawyer, I didn’t get past the abstract of the paper that you have posted, but nevertheless I would like to say the following:

I fully agree it is time for a strategic legal challenge to the rampant deployment of FRT in India, but would it not be better to base it on the Puttuswamy judgement on the fundamental right to privacy?

Further, if I may, I would like to broaden this discussion and state that concurrently, we need to collectively raise our voices and demand that Parliament pass legislation to regulate FRT.

IMO, this could be the minimum demand:

  1. Ban biometric mass surveillance (Facial/Gait recognition etc.) in public spaces

  2. Regulate its other uses through robust and effective laws. (This should include provisions for speedy redressal for any harm caused by misidentification due to FRT algorithms being imperfect.)

Perhaps a broad coalition of digital rights organizations is necessary to provide momentum for such an initiative.


  1. Paper on the Puttuswamy judgement co-authored by IFF Of-Counsel Vrinda Bhandari (Short, well-written and accessible to non-lawyers):
  1. Europe’s “Reclaim Your Face” initiative:

Comments welcome from all!

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