Dec 2019 10

Let’s Face It – Mumbai Edition

Waterstones Hotel, Mumbai, 10 am-5 pm

This day-long meeting is organised by Point of View and the Data Governance Network to explore technological solutions to gender-based violence. Drawing on the Internet Democracy Project’s extensive work on the issue, Dr. Anja Kovacs is providing an introduction to gendering surveillance at the event.

Earlier in 2019, news reports announced that almost Rs 3,000 crores has been sanctioned to Safe City projects to ensure women’s safety in public spaces in eight cities: Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Lucknow. A significant portion of this is meant for the use of digital technologies, including facial recognition, CCTV cameras, drones, and GIS mapping.

State governments are gearing up to start implementing this project. As per other news reports, the Mumbai police will use much of its allocation to instal 125 facial recognition cameras, an additional 1600 CCTV cameras, 100 automatic number plate recognition cameras, 100 mounted panoramic cameras on police vehicles – and buy two drones. In late October, the Karnataka government approved a Rs 667 crore proposal which will pay for over 16,000 surveillance cameras and GIS-based crime mapping for predictive policing.

It’s time we started talking about these technologies. How do they work? How can these technologies ensure women’s safety in public spaces? What are the human rights consequences of using these technologies? What are the impacts on civil liberties? What are the promises of such technologies – and the perils?

At this daylong meeting, we will:

  • dive into research that explains these technologies and some of the concerns around them; and

  • start to evolve a position on what could be a nuanced response to the use of such technologies in the context of women’s safety and safe city initiatives in general.

This is the first in a series of similar consultations that Point of View plans to hold in some of the other cities where the Safe City project is being rolled out. In each city, activists, researchers, and lawyers who work directly on either gender-based violence, sexuality or digital rights – or with communities of women are invited.