Caixin Global – Latest China News & Headlines

Home >


CX Tech is Caixin Global's real-time tech news portal, featuring 24-hour news, short-form analysis, and roundups from business and tech media in China.

Alibaba’s Zhang Yong Tops 2020 Forbes China Best CEOs List
Trending: Family Feud Raises Big Questions Over Succession in China’s Multi-Million “Family” Businesses
Shanghai-Listed Foxconn Internet’s Cloud Service Sales Up 4% in First Half of 2020
U.S.-Listed Chinese Companies Nio and Huya Have Something to Cheer About
Apple Edges Huawei Out of No. 1 in Quarterly Tablet Shipments
Chinese Finance Platform Lufax Files for U.S. IPO of up to $3 Billion
China Mainland Leads U.S. in Fortune Global 500 Companies But Trails in Profitability
Trending in China: Tencent – Fighting Youth Unemployment or Enemy of Older Workers?
Tencent Pushes for Merger That Would Create $10 Billion Chinese Twitch
Tencent Music to Establish Joint Venture with Universal Music
Trending: How U.S.-China Relations Are Causing Netizens to Read the Small Print as Rumors Fly
Qualcomm Lobbies U.S. to Resume Chip Sales to Huawei
Trending in China: Excited About Returning to College Campuses? Not So Quick With Covid-19 Controls
Twitter Joins Microsoft as Another Possible Purchaser of TikTok’s U.S. Business: Report
Electric-Car Maker XPeng Files for U.S. IPO
Xiaomi Still Top Dog in Indian Smartphone Market Despite Tensions
Trending in China: Can You Really Launch a Company Without Saying What it Does?
China’s WeWork rival Ucommune withdraws $100m US IPO, eyes backdoor listing
SMIC Profits Soar to $138m in Second Quarter
Foldable Phone-Maker Plans Shenzhen IPO, Dispelling Rumors of U.S. Listing
Trending in China: Investigation Reveals Your Face Worth Just 7 Cents to Scammers in China

Yilin Chen / Jul 21, 2020 06:29 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

China’s facial recognition data has been sold online for as little as 0.5 yuan (7 cents) apiece, according to a Xinhua report. On major e-commerce sites including Taobao and secondhand platform Xianyu, vendors are explicitly selling bundles of personal data, including photos of individuals holding their national ID cards, as well as bank account numbers and phone numbers. Scammers then use the information to generate fake accounts or commit fraud.

What’s the story?

Real-name and photo authentication is reshaping everything in China from government programs to a slew of individual apps. The network of color-coded “health QR codes” launched during the Covid-19 pandemic requires a constant update of personal information, while internet giant Tencent has implemented face scans to curb young gamers’ screen time and detect any impulsive spending. At the same time, Huawei, WeChat and Ant Group’s Alipay have all introduced face-scanning payment methods.

Xinhua journalists have delved into the market for user data, collected through apps and websites on behalf of online vendors. Such sales are advertised on Taobao and Xianyu using vague code words, but the actual transactions are often conducted on messaging apps such as WeChat and QQ in order to avoid detection. For 35 yuan ($5), scammers can also buy computer software that can animate photos to fool face scans in apps, allowing them to hack into bank accounts and social media profiles.

Although China’s first civil code, effective from next year, spells out the protection of biometric information, experts believe that this is easier said than done. According to Xinhua, facial recognition data is a peculiar case because it poses little privacy risk per se, but can be highly problematic once combined with other user data such as ID numbers and bank account details. Experts suggest that databases should strictly store facial biometrics and other information separately to prevent scammers from stealing them in bundles.

What are people saying online?

Internet users are deeply worried by Xinhua’s report, especially after witnessing the power of data collection in the fight against Covid-19. The controversy also comes soon after the trial of China’s first facial recognition case began in Hangzhou in June. Law professor Guo Bing sued a local wildlife park for requiring a face scan upon entry without his consent and then denying his refund request. The incident continues to stir up heated debate as people await the court’s final ruling.

Many people argue that apps and companies have no right to require facial recognition in the first place. “Nowadays I have to scan, upload, and submit every piece of information about myself. I feel like I’m stripped naked. Data privacy is just a joke,” one user wrote. But even amid the outrage, some users try to lighten the mood, saying “my beautiful face is definitely worth more than 0.5 yuan.”

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (

Share this article
Open WeChat and scan the QR code