Indian Railways Set To Launch Cutting-Edge Facial Recognition Technology At Patna & Other Stations

Patna Railway

The move aims to bolster security by linking the system to a database of crimes committed in and around the railway premises

Indian Railways is set to commence a Facial Recognition System (FRS) based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology at all the major stations of Danapur division, East Central Railway (ECR). The itinerary follows the installation of the technology initially at the Patna Junction, as per the reports.

The goal is to  enhance the security measures by giving access to the latest database of recorded criminal activities being committed in and around the railway stations. The ECR Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) Birendra Kumar reiterated railways commitment to ensure foolproof safety of passengers during their journeys and on the railway stations. Stressing on the footfall Patna Junction witnesses daily, Kumar said the station has become a hub of passenger trains. “Thus railways intends to provide a state of the art security system on a par with airport at all the major stations,” he added. The FRS will act as a boon in the railways’ attempt to control criminal activities on station premises, he further said.

Railway Board sources have said the installation of the FRS technology at all major stations across the country will be a major breakthrough for the railways. An RPF team pitched a similar security plan after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. However, the plan couldn’t be implemented due to various factors.

Does the data protection legislation permit such data gathering?

India’s Digital Personal Data Protection Act offers a wide range of exemptions to government entities for processing people’s personal data without the need to adhere to essential safeguards like obtaining consent, or even providing information on such activities to the person whose data is being processed. Further, Section 17(1)(c) of the bill also exempts entities that are processing personal data in the interest of prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of any offence from certain key provisions of the law. This essentially implies that the railway authorities can validate the collection of individuals’ facial data for crime prevention purposes without requiring their consent or their awareness, although there is some degree of clarity regarding the methods employed to safeguard such a database.

As per the reports, there are around 200 stations which will be closed undergoing a complete security overhaul. Out of these 200 stations, a few will fall under the ECR jurisdiction. “Security measures like provision of FRS, luggage scanner, sniffers, and random luggage check are the need of hour at a time when threats from terrorists, Maoist outfits, harassment of women passengers, and habitual offenders are looming large at most of the stations in Bihar and Jharkhand,” a senior RPF officer said.

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