Facial Recognition AI – Crossroads with Child Rights

Facial Recognition AI – Crossroads with Child Rights

Author: Disha Pathak
III Year | University Institute of Legal Studies


In the 21st century, with bloom in the technology sector in almost every field, there is a beacon of hope that it sees the light of development in humanitarian studies. In most cases, artificial intelligence has done wonders in every arena and law is not privy to it. However, with the present scenario of societal development, it appears whether it could become a threat to our fundamental rights.

When we talk of human rights, it gives us a broader prospect of our society, but children are the most vulnerable section of it. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a part of our daily lives and data experts are still getting to know it. The deeper we dig into its dimensions, the more it is causing harm to the privacy of the individuals. Moreover, among this high-tech generation, children might get lost in the discussions. This article probes how AI is becoming a threat to the safety of children and some suggestions as to how to curb it.

AI and Child Rights:

Artificial Intelligence is simply an artificial human thinker which runs on technically generated algorithms and codes[1]. Its ability to function as a human is what makes it different from the other inventions. Lately, child rights has been on the radar of the many facets of this disruptive technology.[2]

Facial Recognition Technology:

Face Recognition is one of the aspects of the AI which, detects the facial features of the human being and from the data thus provided to it and thus disclosing the whole identity of the targeted individual[3]. With its growing use, it has been used in the legal field, for instance in the criminal justice system. It can detect the face of the offender, and notify the official authorities who may then take charge[4]. But with its rampant use, it is not devoid of misuse. Technology comes with its own pros and cons, and so do AI.

Violation of Child Rights:

India has recently started using the Facial Recognition system for curbing crimes in the country. Using this system, the government will be able to blacklist the offenders and take legal actions by detecting their identity as registered in the official database of the country. Though this technology will be helpful to the extent only until it violates the basic rights of the people. This technology would track the regular movements of people and thus identifying them through facial features[5].


Now, children are at a greater risk of this advancement, since they are innocent and yet not fully exposed to such systems[6]. To be under constant mass surveillance would hamper their rights. Children have the right to enjoy all the leisure activities and specifically in parks. Their Right to Play and Recreational activities is provided under Article 31(1) and (2)[7] of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Constant check on them would hamper their early development and may have various psychological impacts on them.

Technology and its Consequences:

This is not only limited to surveillance but also has severe consequences. For example, an article by MIT Technology Review illustrated that Buenos Aires[8] started using the live facial recognition system, but surprisingly it brought children under the government radar for being alleged offenders. However, the fact that it was only tested on adult faces was a strange thing.

This system is based on a technicality. Thus, in a diverse country like India, it’s necessary that there is no skewed or less information available, especially in cases of women and children. If not provided with plenty of data, the system might be biased.

It can be derived that any policy adopted by a country has to be strategically planned and carefully reviewed, and concern for children to be specifically kept in mind.

Remedies to Safeguard Child Rights:

Availability of Data:

The technology works majorly on the input of data in the database; therefore, the availability of the data would have a direct impact on the results generated. There has to be a clear and official database of children, but also not hampering their data privacy and Freedom of Expression provided under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution[9].

Inclusion of Research on Children and Child Sensitive Policies:

Whenever there has to be an implementation of a policy, all strata of the society have to be considered. During essential research studies, children have often been neglected. Thus, keeping in mind the advanced AI, policies will have to be made child-sensitive considering their vulnerability. Before AI comes into force, its impact should be carefully analyzed. Policies should be strictly made in compliance with the Child Welfare Boards so that technology, law, and social policies operate on the same level.

AI in Education:

When children’s rights are concerned their education cannot be left behind. As technology is advancing at a fast pace, children should be aware of the future technologies which will be used over almost all fields in the future. Indian Government took some significant steps such as the National Educational Policy, 2020. It aims at acquainting children with technology at earlier stages. Children must become well-aware of technology, but not at cost of their youth and mental and physical peace.


The above observations have tried to shed some light on the potential of AI as advancing technology and how, if used ethically and responsibly would benefit mankind at large. Policies relating to ethics in technology should be made considering the target audience. In the digital era, especially during the unprecedented times of the pandemic, it is necessary that children’s well-being should be kept in mind considering how much they are privy to the technology.

A responsible and sensitive approach towards framing laws and policies would be a significant step towards the inclusion of AI in the public domain and for the children’s benefit in particular and the public in general. Extensive and child-friendly research and surveys would be beneficial before any new initiative can be made. Inclusion of diversity in the technology should be the approach, in this rapidly advancing generation and times.

[1] B. J. Copeland, Artificial intelligence, BRITANNICA, (3rd February, 2021, 12:32 PM) URL: https://www.britannica.com/technology/artificial-intelligence

[2] AI for Children, UNICEF (19th February, 2021, 08:47 PM) URL: https://www.unicef.org/globalinsight/featured-projects/ai-children

[3] Thorin Klosowski, Facial Recognition Is Everywhere. Here’s What We Can Do About It, WIRECUTTER, (3rd February, 2021, 12:57 PM) URL: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/how-facial-recognition-works/

[4] Smriti Srivastava, Is Facial Recognition Threatening Privacy or Detecting Crimes, ANALYTICS INSIGHT, (3rd February, 2021, 12:59 PM) URL: https://www.analyticsinsight.net/facial-recognition-threatening-privacy-detecting-crimes/

[5] Orlaith Finn, Facial Recognition: A Threat to Privacy, TELECOM REVIEW, (3rd February, 2021, 1:10 PM) URL: https://www.telecomreview.com/index.php/articles/reports-and-coverage/3359-facial-recognition-a-threat-to-privacy

[6] AI for children: the risks and the rights, THINK AUTOMATION, (3rd February, 2021, 1:46 PM) URL: https://www.thinkautomation.com/automation-ethics/ai-for-children-the-risks-and-the-rights/

[7] Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS, (3rd February, 2021, 2:03 PM) URL: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx

[8] Karen Hao, Live Facial Recognition is Tracking Kids Suspected of Being Criminals, MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW, (3rd February, 2021, 1:09 PM) URL: https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/10/09/1009992/live-facial-recognition-is-tracking-kids-suspected-of-crime/

[9] Article 19(1)(a) in the Constitution of India 1949, INDIAN KANOON, (3rd February, 2021, 3:12 PM) URL: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1378441/

Editor: Pari Agrawal
Content Manager| Leagle Samiksha

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