Update on IFF's #ProjectPanoptic

IFF’s Project Panoptic aims to bring transparency and accountability to the relevant government stakeholders involved in the deployment and implementation of facial recognition technology (FRT) projects in India.

21 July, 2020
3 min read


IFF’s Project Panoptic aims to bring transparency and accountability to the relevant government stakeholders involved in the deployment and implementation of facial recognition technology (FRT) projects in India.

Project Panoptic

IFF aims to increase transparency around the implementation and use of FRT projects through the introduction of a digital public resource. This will be through the deployment of an online dashboard which displays information gathered and collected on FRT deployments across each state.

The project aims to build a digital public resource that is intended to aid transparency and accountability around the deployment of facial recognition in India. It will uncover information, analyse it and then present it through an interactive digital resource. Such a resource will be instrumental in assisting policy and legal advocacy as well as drive issue specific public campaigns.

This public resource will then be used to drive advocacy on the issue though campaigns and online advocacy. This will enable strategic litigation at the Central and State level by diverse individuals and collectives based on individual harms and injuries that may be suffered by them. The broader aim would be to drive policy changes particularly with regard to data protection legislation in India as well as the introduction of a specific sectoral legislation for facial recognition technology.

How is this resource being built?

The resource will essentially be a website which will consist of an interactive map tracking the deployment of FRT systems by the government across the country. The resource will also consist of case studies specific to certain projects. One of the main features of the website will be that it will be supported by IFF’s considerable RTI resources. IFF has been filing RTI requests asking for information on each project that we come across to create a database of information which will facilitate us in our drive for transparency and accountability.

IFF has teamed up with DataKind Bangalore to build this public resource. By clicking on this link you can access the interactive wireframe for the project. The resource is being built with the help of a team of talented and socially conscious volunteers which includes Vivek Shrinivasan, Srivalya Elluru, Srihari Pramod, Vamsi Krishna and Romit Jain. Below are tentative wireframes for the resource.

Map of India (zoomed in)

Wireframe of information display for a specific project

The tentative timeline for the launch of this resource is September 1, 2020. Currently, Srihari and Vivek are working on implementing the map functionality and frontend integration. Srivallya, Vamsi and Romit are working on developing the backend of the resource and are trying to provide data to get the wireframe live. The website is being developed with the help of Shivani Singh (IFF's Organisational and Community Manager) and Anushka Jain (IFF's Transparency and Right to Information Fellow). The database for this project which includes information about all ongoing FRT projects in the country was created by Anushka Jain with the help of the IFF staff.

Below is a brief video explainer on Project Panoptic and the steps we have taken so far.

Important Documents

  1. Introduction to Facial Recognition Projects in India dated February 17, 2020 (link)
  2. Problems with Facial Recognition Technology Operating in a Legal Vacuum dated February 20, 2020 (link)
  3. IFF proposes a three year moratorium on the use of Facial Recognition Technology in India dated March 23, 2020 (link)

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