The rapid growth of facial recognition technology in recent years has been fueled by artificial intelligence (AI) developments. The issue of how to supervise their use is one that jurisdictions worldwide are starting to discuss. Around the world, including India, law enforcement organizations are increasingly using facial recognition technology. It is a potent surveillance, suspect identification, and crime prevention tool since it uses algorithms to analyze and identify people based on facial traits. To find the correct balance between law enforcement requirements and individual rights, technology for facial recognition has produced legal and ethical issues that require thoughtful consideration. There has been some discussion about the development and application of facial recognition technology (FRT) by law enforcement agencies in India. Individual privacy, informational autonomy, state-sanctioned widespread monitoring, and inherent technology weaknesses that could further disadvantage vulnerable populations have all been mentioned as concerning issues. Numerous human rights are violated when facial recognition technology is used in public places for police enforcement. Systems that use facial recognition affect the right to privacy. It is particularly challenging for facial recognition technologies to adhere to the criteria of necessity and proportionality due to the enormous amount of data they handle. If facial recognition installations fall short of the requirements for legal surveillance, they may also be considered extensive monitoring. This kind of widespread surveillance likewise violates the right to privacy. The civic and political liberties to freedom of speech, and peaceful gathering, which are crucial for democracy, are also threatened by facial recognition. The risk of being wrongly recognized, made worse by racial, gender, and class prejudice ingrained in police databases and computations, also compromises the right to non-discrimination, which calls for states to treat people equally before the law and protect them from all forms of discrimination. In addition to affecting the right to due process and the presumption of innocence, which are the cornerstones of fair judicial procedures, facial recognition technology may additionally affect other legal principles.


One of the key legal challenges associated with face recognition technology is the collection, storage, and use of personal data, including facial images, without the explicit agreement of the individuals concerned. The right to privacy has been recognized by Indian courts as an inalienable right secured by the Indian Constitution, the use of artificial intelligence for facial recognition that involves the gathering and processing of personal data must comply with any relevant regulations or laws, such as the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practises and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011. A robust legislative structure, including standards and safeguards, is needed to oversee the use of facial recognition technology in Indian law enforcement. There is no explicit law in India that governs only facial recognition technology. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Home Affairs has released regulations for controlling how law enforcement organizations may use automated facial recognition systems (AFRS). To guarantee that the use of facial recognition technology is legal, there is a need for explicit legal norms as well as accountability practices. The facial identification systems’ shortcomings in precision could lead to misidentification, false positives, or false negatives. This could have severe consequences like wrongful imprisonment and human rights abuses.


Facial recognition technology’s ethical implications regarding disclosure and consent are problematic. There may be a need for more transparency regarding the usage of peoples’ data, and people may need to be made aware that their facial images are being gathered and analyzed. To ensure that their privacy rights are upheld, people whose facial photos are taken by law enforcement organizations for facial recognition purposes must give informed consent.

Authorities and Corporations must use facial recognition technology transparently to foster belief and assure responsible use, clearly communicating its deployment, function, and protection Benchmarks to the public. Applying facial recognition technology in law enforcement may bring up unfairness and human rights issues. Constant surveillance of individuals may violate freedom of speech, gatherings, and mobility if their movements and conduct are observed and recorded without permission. Ethical considerations should be made to avoid discrimination or human rights breaches brought on by using facial recognition technology in Indian law enforcement. Safeguards should be in place to guarantee that the technology is applied ethically and that the results are openly and autonomously audited. It is essential to put bias mitigation techniques into practice.

The right to privacy is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, which may be significant when law enforcement uses facial recognition technology. In several rulings, the Supreme Court of India recognized the right to privacy as a fundamental freedom defended in court cases involving facial recognition technology. The collection, storage, and use of sensitive personal data, including biometric data like facial images, are governed by the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practises and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011, published under the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. When employing the technology to secure the confidentiality and safety of data, law enforcement agencies in India may be obligated to abide by specific regulations.


In conclusion, there are substantial legal and ethical issues with the deployment of face recognition technology in Indian law enforcement that need to be adequately considered. Facial recognition technology raises concerns about privacy, data protection, justice, and prejudice, even though it can potentially be a highly effective tool in identifying suspects and preventing crime. India’s need for explicit legislation controlling facial recognition technology necessitates the creation of a robust legislative framework that guarantees adherence to constitutional rights and pertinent laws. The Indian Constitution and present legislation provide a foundation for regulating the use of face recognition technology. India might require additional legislative changes to tackle this technology’s particular problems in the Indian context.

Author’s Name: Sreejeeta Das (Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad)

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