India’s Growing Surveillance State

New Technologies Threaten Freedoms in the World’s Largest Democracy

Mansi Thapliya / Reuters

In December 2019, as protests against a controversial new citizenship law swept India, three incidents in different parts of the country revealed the state’s growing powers of surveillance. In Delhi, police officers used facial recognition devices to screen individuals entering a protest venue. In Chennai, surveillance drones circled above a protest march. And in Hyderabad, police stopped a pedestrian and fingerprinted him to check for “past criminal activity.”  While surveillance technology has proliferated in India over the last decade, institutional and legal safeguards have not kept pace. The Indian Parliament has yet to enact a data protection law, and the courts …