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Opposition to Facial Recognition Technology Grows

By Mo Yelin / Dec 20, 2019 02:35 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Touted as a way to make society safer, sophisticated facial recognition systems that can identify and track individuals are increasingly showing up in unexpected places. And Chinese residents are pushing back.

A Caixin investigation shows how building managers in Shanghai quietly installed facial recognition cameras in elevators to track residents, and how powerful systems inside shopping malls analyze individual customers’ purchasing habits. In schools, students have fought back by tampering with cameras installed in their classrooms.

Despite some public unease the systems are freely available to purchase, and their use is not regulated by specific Chinese laws.

Facial recognition technology has big backers. Aside from the government, internet giants Tencent and Alibaba have pioneered its use in payment systems that could one day replace the nation’s ubiquitous QR code mobile payments.

Earlier this year, what is believed to be the first major study of Chinese public opinion on the technology found more than 70% of survey respondents favored traditional ID methods over face scans to verify their identity. Personal information leakage was among their major concerns, which has been fuelled by cases of facial data being bought and sold online.

Read the full story later today on Caixin Global.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (

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