Webinar | Rise of Covid Surveillance and Facial Recognition | May 22, 2020, 6:00PM IST

Webinar hosted by Internet Freedom Foundation and HasGeek


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in several global systems failing, systems originally built to handle emergencies. This emergency is being used as a chance to experiment with new forms of technology to understand how diseases spread. In this session the speakers will discuss the rise of facial recognition surveillance technologies in India and the implications for privacy protection, while also looking at the effectiveness of these technologies.


  1. Smriti Parsheera is a lawyer and technology policy researcher. She is a Fellow with the CyberBRICS Project.
  2. Vidushi Marda is a legal researcher interested in the interplay between emerging technologies, policy, and society. She is a part of Article 19’s digital team.
  3. Anushka Jain is a lawyer and policy researcher interested in disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, facial recognition and machine learning. She works as the Transparency and RTI fellow at the Internet Freedom Foundation.

Date: Friday, 22nd May, 2020

Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM

Who should participate:

Policy researchers, privacy engineers, academics working on/with evaluating covid technologies. Members of tech-policy advocacy organizations and journalists are welcome to join and ask questions

Reading material for the session -



Hi. Would it be uploaded on Youtube? I really want to attend it, but cannot for personal reasons…

Hi everyone,
Just wanted to provide updates and take-aways from this webinar. The video will be uploaded on IFF’s youtube channel by the end of this week. While we did run a little overtime, the discussion itself was enriching enough to warrant this leeway.

  • My co-panelists, Smriti Parsheera and Vidushi Marda, both had extremely insightful takes on the national and international impact of facial recognition, especially with reference to COVID-surveillance.

  • This beautifully complemented my presentation on IFF’s ongoing Project Panoptic under which we have been focusing on how to create transparency around these projects which are underway across the country.

  • It is even more important in the current situation that before the implementation of these projects which could facilitate mass surveillance, we step back to assess the technology itself.

  • This assessment needs to include the efficacy of the technology, the algorithmic bias within the technology and its impact on privacy.

  • The impact on privacy has to be assessed keeping in mind the ease with which a mission creep can occur which would result in the creation of back-end profiles of individuals. Such profiling will be the first step in state-sponsored mass surveillance.

  • It is also important to learn from the examples of other jurisdictions in order to ensure that we learn from their mistakes while also being dynamic enough to adapt international good practices with regard to this technology specifically for India.

IFF continues to work on facial recognition technology use in India and you can read more about our work in our blogposts on IFF’s website.


Hello! Yes, we will post it on Youtube and share the link here as well :slight_smile:

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Hello all,

The recorded video for this webinar is now available on YouTube. We hope those of you who couldn’t join, find it useful :slight_smile:

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Hello people. I am a law student and an avid researcher. I’m a follower of IFF and am interested in tech policy.
In the webinar, Anushka mentioned an RTI w.r.t the Delhi Police, wherein the Delhi Police justified the use of facial recognition citing the ‘Sadan Haidar’ case. However, I have tried to find out the case but am unable to.
Could you please tell me the details of the case, it would be a great help.

Hi! I believe Anushka has shared this with you via email. Please feel free to reach out in case you need any other assistance finding resources :slight_smile: We’re always happy to help!

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