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NATGRID, a significant advancement in monitoring unlawful behaviors, now possesses the largest facial recognition database, containing 1.05 billion entries

Achieving a significant milestone, the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) has amassed a database containing more than 1.05 billion facial entries, equivalent to approximately 80% of India’s population if duplicate entries are discounted, as disclosed by a senior official to News18.

According to sources, this extensive facial recognition database encompasses data captured during the Covid-19 pandemic, even when individuals were wearing masks. Impressively, the system boasts the capability to swiftly access and match data of masked faces within minutes.

Emphasizing the importance of this vast reservoir of data, a senior NATGRID official underscored its utility in tracking individuals sought by law enforcement agencies. The official highlighted the database’s inclusivity of masked individuals, enabling the system to efficiently identify and track them.

In terms of data collection and sourcing, the official elucidated that NATGRID has established Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with various government departments, including the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Income Tax department, and police agencies. Additionally, data has been sourced from various departments operating at airports.

Concurrently, the Union government is leading efforts to develop a comprehensive national database aimed at monitoring illicit activities such as Hawala transactions, terrorist financing, counterfeit currency circulation, narcotics trafficking, bomb threats, and illegal arms smuggling.

This initiative underscores a concerted endeavor to leverage data analytics and information technology to revolutionize the operational methodologies of security agencies.

The incorporation of advanced technologies into intelligence gathering and analysis signals a pivotal transition towards proactive and targeted approaches in combating security threats.

By consolidating extensive data from diverse sources, NATGRID and affiliated agencies are poised to augment their capabilities in preempting and addressing various forms of criminal and terrorist activities.

With regards to the usage of the aforementioned data, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has instructed agencies to exercise prudence and discretion, ensuring that the system is utilized solely for legitimate purposes. Additionally, he stressed the importance of maximizing the system’s data for improving operational efficiency.

In light of privacy and data security concerns, Shah assured the implementation of necessary protocols to prevent unauthorized access to citizens’ personal data through the system.

The NATGRID solution will be accessible to 11 central agencies as well as police forces across all states and Union Territories. It will establish linkages between user agencies and data holders, granting them access to real-time information essential for intelligence services and investigations. Collaborating with C-DAC Pune as the technology partner and IIT-Bhilai as the Plan Management Consultant, the development of the NATGRID solution is underway.

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