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Facial Recognition: Anxiety among Chinese People

Starting in December, whenever the Chinese people had to register their new mobile phone numbers, they also had to undergo facial scanning. However, a survey showed that Chinese respondents were very concerned about the security of facial recognition. During October and November of this year, a research center affiliated with the Guangzhou based Southern Metropolis Daily conducted a survey on facial recognition. The center released an online questionnaire to investigate the problems and concerns of the public when using facial recognition. Among the respondents, 57 percent were worried that their personal whereabouts were recorded while nearly 50 percent were worried that criminals may use fake information to perform fraud or theft. Nearly 84 percent of the respondents want operators of the facial recognition system to provide them with a channel to view or delete facial data. 74 percent of respondents want to choose whether to use facial recognition or traditional methods. However, the survey also showed that about 60 percent to 70 percent of respondents believe that facial recognition makes public places safer.

An IT website, Comparitech, once conducted a study on the scope and depth of the use of biometrics and surveillance systems. China, the worst among the 50 surveyed countries, lacks public attention to the privacy of people’s biometric data. The study showed that China has no laws to protect the biometrics of citizens and emphasized “the lack of protection for employees in the workplace.”

According to Chinese media, the metro system in Zhengzhou city of Henan province started “riding with face” (using facial recognition in the metro system) in early December. China Daily reported that riders can use facial recognition to authorize payment automatically instead of scanning the QR code on their mobile phones. Currently, passengers can voluntarily choose whether to use facial recognition.

Source: BBC Chinese, December 6, 2019