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Telangana municipal elections 2020: Face recognition app yields 80% accuracy

PTI     February 4, 2020

The first-of-its-kind facial recognition app used in the recently concluded municipal polls in Telangana yielded an accuracy of 80 per cent, officials have claimed. However, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi objected to using the technology alleging that it was dangerous and would invade privacy.

"The result (of face recognition app) was encouraging. The accuracy was upto 80 per cent. Some of the factors such as poor quality of lighting in some polling booths and pictures (of electors photo identitycard) that were fed to the app being old, have impacted the accuracy at some places," a senior official involved in using the app told PTI. Otherwise the result would have been above 90 per cent.

Even then the result was encouraging, the official said. The Telangana State Election Commission used facial recognition app in a bid to counter impersonation of voters. The app was used on a pilot basis in the selected 10 polling stations of Kompally Municipality of Medchal Malkajgiri district in the urban local bodies polls on January 22. The data collected using the app would be deleted after the polls, an official press release had said earlier. An additional polling officer with a smartphone first verified the identity proof of the voters and then took photographs and uploaded to the server using face recognition app installed on the mobile phone provided to him so as to compare the same with the photographs of the orders of the polling station concerned.

The app displays the results of the verification based on the match established with anyone of the voterswith anappropriate message, an official release had said adding the entire process properly encrypted and the data is kept anonymously. The AIMIM, ahead of the polls, had requested the state Election Commission not to use face recognition app alleging that it would invade the privacy of the citizens, among other violations. Use of facial recognition technology is dangerous and will cause irreversible damage to our right to privacy as individuals. There must be a moratorium on its use. Instead, it is seeing widespread use despite SC judgement (Puttaswamy) Owaisi tweeted on Tuesday reacting to a media report.

Telangana State Technology Services (TSTS) developed the app to be used on a trial basis during the municipal polls. A senior official of the TSTS told PTI that the technology was originally developed for pensioners under Pensioners Life Certificate Authentication using a selfie (PLCS) method under which a beneficiary would take the selfie using the app which would be verified using the stored database. The official also said the TSTS has informed the Election Commission of India about the usefulness of the app, but the EC did not respond.

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