Following India’s unprecedented sanitation mission, the country has now set another precedent; just 15 months ago, the New Delhi police started the project by comparing facial data from orphanage databases and missing children databases. 10,561 children have been matched and are now in the process of being sent home.
More than 300,000 children are still missing in India (pop. 1.37 billion), with more than 100,000 living in orphanages. Most of them are victims of human trafficking and illegal child labor.
The country’s law enforcement per capita is less than half that of most developed countries, so India has turned heavily to facial recognition. They plan to have a country wide database – a fact that has spooked many Indian citizens due to India’s relaxed data privacy laws. It is impossible to know for sure what kind of corruption to expect, but some argue that keeping the technology away from private enterprise will mitigate the corruption.
Moving forward, India will have to maintain a delicate balance between adopting beneficial facial recognition projects and falling into a permanent surveillance state.