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Daily Drip

Major Chinese City Pushes Back Against Widespread Facial Recognition

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The eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou plans to prohibit property owners from the mandatory use of facial recognition, fingerprinting, and other biometrics in residential properties. The regulation comes in the midst of increasing concerns over biometric data use and data security in China. 

On October 26, Hangzhou’s Municipal People’s Congress clarified that owners were not allowed to make biometric access to common facilities and equipment compulsory. The regulations are thought to be the first of their kind in China. 

This announcement is particularly striking in Hangzhou, a hub of technological innovation and the first city to implement a health QR code system amid the Covid-19 outbreak. This same health QR code system was the source of intense backlash amongst Hangzhou residents when the local government suggested making its implementation permanent rather than purely for the pandemic. 

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China’s Facial Recognition Data is for Sale – at 7 Cents Apiece

 

China has one of the most surveilled populaces in the world and concern over personal privacy and data sharing has only increased with the integration of facial recognition software into every aspect of life. Facial recognition tech can now enable you to take the metro, pay for goods, or register for a semester of university in certain Chinese cities, but not everyone is willing to have their features captured in return for such convenience. 

Earlier this year, Baidu CEO Robin Li proposed a personal privacy protection bill during the ruling Communist Party’s Two Sessions meetings amid discussion over tighter legislation around the storage of citizens’ data. However, restrictions around the use of facial recognition and policies for the widespread protection of personal privacy in this realm have yet to be implemented on a national level. 

Lakshmi Iyengar
    Lakshmi Iyengar is a Yenching Scholar studying health, economics, and modern China. Before moving to Beijing, she majored in Biomedical Engineering at Yale. Follow her on twitter @vlakshmiiyengar for insights on China and life