The Election Commission of India will use facial recognition in a polling booth in Bengaluru during the Karnataka elections. Voters have to upload a selfie to the official app, and they can use the facial recognition system. Once the scan is successful, the voter can skip the queue, and go ahead to vote. Also Read - Beware of the AI impostor scam that cost Indians lakhs of rupees
This is the first time ECI is using facial recognition in elections. It is similar to the recently launched DigiYatra service that uses facial recognition to skip lines at the airport. However, there are privacy concerns around DigiYatra, as well as the use of facial recognition in Karnataka elections.
5 big questions about how facial recognition in Karnataka elections will help skip lines
Here are 5 quick points to tell you everything you need to know about the use of facial recognition in Karnataka elections.
Q: Where is the ECI using facial recognition in Karnataka elections?
According to a Moneycontrol report, the Election Commission will deploy facial recognition at only one polling booth for the May 10 elections. It will be used for Room no two, Government Ramnarayan Chellaram College, Palace Road, near the office of the Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer.
Q: How will facial recognition work in Karnataka elections?
Voters normally have to verify their documents at the polling station. It is mostly a manual process which means it could be slow at times. The use of facial recognition lets voters skip document verification by uploading a selfie to the official app.
Once the picture in the selfie matches you in the facial recognition system, you can skip the manual verification stage and go ahead to vote. This system is expected to make voting faster and reduce bogus voting.
Q: How to use facial recognition to vote in Karnataka elections?
If you are voting at the pilot booth at the Government Ramnarayan Chellaram College, you can take advantage of this system. You have to download the official Chunavana application from Play Store or App Store.
Feed your EPIC number and mobile number into the app, and verify it with an OTP. Once done, click a selfie and upload it to the app. Now, you can use the facial recognition setup at the polling booth when you reach. You don’t need any other documents to verify your identity if the system recognizes you.
However, just to be safe, make sure you carry the necessary documents, as this technology is still in the pilot phase.
Q: How did the Election Commission come up with this idea?
The EC held a 30-hour offline hackathon with the students of the International Institute of Information Technology, Bengaluru, and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. The winning team came up with this solution to speed up the voting process, avoid bogus voting, and reduce manpower.
Q: What else can the Chunavana app do for voters?
According to EC officials, voters can use the Chunavana app to check the availability of parking spaces near the polling booth. Senior citizens and differently-abled voters can also use the app to avail wheelchair services when they go to vote.
Moreover, the Chunavana app has details of the election schedule, polling booths, contesting candidates, nearby hospitals, police stations etc.
Pilot to go on amidst privacy concerns
The government recently deployed DigiYatra at major airports in Delhi, Bangalore, and Varanasi. Privacy activists and experts claim that the service collects more than necessary data, and may end up violating user privacy. However, the ministry clarifies that critical user data is encrypted and stored locally on the user’s devices.
Similarly, the use of facial recognition has raised privacy concerns in Karnataka too. But the ECI has decided to go ahead with the pilot. India is rapidly adopting cutting-edge technology like AI and facial recognition. However, the current laws have, so far, failed to keep up with the potential misuse of such technology.
While innovation is great, the government should also focus on creating more robust laws around the usage and protection of sensitive data like people’s facial and biometric scans.