Facial Recognition: Should We Be Scared? Chinese Think So!
If you didn’t know that the Chinese government uses tools for facial recognition to track the residents of large cities, remember that! When you come to the camera’s sight, the system already knows who you are, where you live, what your phone number is. So, it’s no surprise that residents of China are not pleasantly impressed by Big Brother watching their every step.
Research of the Topic
One of Beijing’s research institutes conducted a survey and found out that indicators of the pushback against this feature had rapidly increased. In particular, 74% of those who took part in the survey confessed that they would like to turn this feature off and replace it with traditional identification methods for verifying their identity.
More than 6000 thousand respondents are concerned about possible leaks of their personal biometric data. What’s interesting, this is the first research on this topic of such scale in mainland China, According to The Financial Times, no one has ever done that before.
More than 80% of respondents are unsatisfied with these measures because China has no laws to protect citizens from hacking their biometrics. People feel insecure and live in constant fear that someone may hack their data and use it in their own interests. And no one knows what the goals of these hackers will be. Often, they are not up to anything good.
Where Is Facial Recognition Used Now?
These systems are working in schools, stations, shopping centers and other facilities across China.
Cameras are watching people in the streets. This may be a good thing when it comes to identifying criminals. If we compare this experience with what other countries do, we will see that some of them achieved an almost zero criminal level. For example, in Monte-Carlo, Monaco, they have cameras all over the city. People are safe and the police is watching just everyone. Guides tell tourists that they even can hear what people talk about. As a result, their level of safety is almost 100%.
What’s wrong with China? Implementation is the key. China takes 50th place in the ranking of the best implemented facial recognition technology and no one is sure that their personal data is not used by hackers or criminals.
Surveillance: Chinese concerns
The survey which was conducted this fall (between October and November) showed that 57% of respondents don’t like the fact that they are always tracked.
84% of them confessed that they would like to delete the information from recognition systems by their request.
Also, the majority prefers using traditional documents – ID cards, passports or driving licenses for verifying their identity whenever it’s necessary.
Though, the assessment of the system, in general, was quite positive – almost 70% of respondents agreed that they feel safer when there are cameras in public places.
Constant and Inevitable Surveillance
It’s necessary to note that there is no country like China when it comes to the number of cameras in the streets. This is what people just can’t avoid.
Moreover, China implements technology in almost every sphere of life, which is 100% great. For example, they don’t have queues in hospitals – everything happens online. At the markets, you can pay with WeChat for the grocery, even if an old granny sells it.
Getting back to surveillance, we have to mention the experience of Zhengzhou, a Chinese city where they have rolled this tech out on their subway stations. So, the system authorizes payment automatically – without scanning QR codes. Still, this is an option, not an obligatory measure so far.
Nevertheless, some measures are really mandatory – the Chinese state continues to implement the technology across the country. For example, they rolled out a new regulation prescribing every mobile phone user to scan their faces when signing a contract with a provider. This is made to decrease the fraud level, as there have been many cases of reselling and conducting scam activities with used Sim cards.
So, it’s up to you to decide whether this experience of China is positive or negative. In our opinion, it has both sides, and we are happy that the Chinese do not live in a dystopia, and the state does not always want to control them but helps to make the country safer and more attractive for local residents.