China Plans to Restrict Facial Recognition Technology Use, Draft Rules Suggest

China Plans to Restrict Businesses’ Use of Facial Recognition Technology

According to draft rules from the Cyberspace Administration released Tuesday, China is planning to restrict businesses’ use of facial recognition technology in favor of non-biometric personal identification methods.

Proposed Policy

The proposed policy requires individual consent and a specific purpose for using facial recognition. If there are non-biometric verification methods available for achieving a similar purpose or business requirements, those methods should be preferred.

However, individual consent isn’t required for certain administrative situations, which the draft did not specify. If facial recognition is used, the proposed rules encourage the use of national systems.

Installation of image collection and personal identification equipment in public places should be for the purpose of maintaining public safety, and clear signage is required.

How Facial Recognition is Being Tested

Businesses in China have experimented with using facial recognition for payment at convenience stores. Some apartment complexes and subway turnstiles in Beijing have also installed facial recognition systems for entry.

At high-speed train stations, Chinese ID holders can swipe their ticket-linked ID cards to enter the train station and platform, sometimes with the assistance of facial recognition.

Where the Technology may be Restricted

The Cyberspace Administration of China stated in its proposed rules that airports, hotels, stations, banks, stadiums, exhibition halls, and other business establishments should not use facial recognition to verify personal identity, unless required by law. People should not be required to use facial recognition to receive better services.

According to the draft, building management cannot use facial recognition as the only way for people to enter or exit. Alternative methods should be provided if individuals do not agree to facial recognition. Additionally, hotel rooms, public bathrooms, changing rooms, and bathrooms must not install equipment for collecting images or personal information.

The draft rules are open for public comment until September 7th.

Last week, China’s cybersecurity regulator released draft rules for restricting minors’ phone screen time and enhancing personal data protection requirements. The proposed rules are also open to public comment.

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