Hack exposes Indian police facial recognition data amid growing surveillance concerns

Despite the breach and security concerns, India continues to expand its use of facial recognition, deploying more cameras and upgrading biometric systems.

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In India, a breach of the Tamil Nadu Police Facial Recognition Portal by the hacker group ‘Valerie’ exposed data on over 50,000 people, including police officers and First Information Reports (FIRs). The stolen information is now being sold on the dark web and could be exploited for scams, as reported by The New Indian Express.

Deployed in 2021, the Tamil Nadu police’s facial recognition system uses software from the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) Kolkata. It was intended for officers to verify suspects on patrol but has been criticised for its broad criteria in identifying potential suspects.

Despite the risks, India continues to expand its use of facial recognition since Meghalaya is deploying 300 cameras in Shillong, Jammu, and Kashmir using AI facial recognition on highways. Telangana police are upgrading to a more comprehensive biometric system under the new Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022.

Why does it matter?

As India advances its digital transformation with major projects like Aadhaar and Digi Yatra, biometric monitoring has become common, and much of the technology powering these initiatives comes from Japan. According to a report from The Wire, Japanese tech firms, particularly NEC, supply many of India’s police forces with biometric tools. Although NEC has a human rights policy, domestic misuse remains a concern.