Chinese conglomerate and government slave Tencent deploys facial recognition in some of its games in China to limit gaming time spent by minors. In part of the new cyber curfew that China established in 2019 that limits minors from playing from 10pm to 8am.
However, Chinese teenagers would still find a way around it, such as borrowing their parents’ phone since everyone in China, before registering or logging in, must indicate their real personal information, including name, age and birthday. The aim of the cyber curfew is to limit internet addiction by minors as well as limiting screen time.
To combat this, Tencent will deploy facial recognition as a countermeasure. Tencent called this totalitarian-like and invasive feature “Midnight Patrol”. “Children, put your phones away and go to sleep,” Tencent said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the New York Times, the reception of this implementation was mixed. Supporters say that this is a good measure to limit internet addiction, but they also questioned its effectiveness as well as how the data would be brought into the authorities (it’s China, they’ll find a way). Others said that Tencent was “overly paternalistic” in this role.
However, there are also people who are against this. Criticisms include concerns about tightening controls and lesser freedom online, as well as lessening anonymity. There were also privacy concerns over this facial recognition. Xu Minghao, a 24-year old programmer said “I don’t trust any of this software.”
When the cyber curfew was introduced in 2019, there were already concerns about privacy due to the fact that everyone had to use their real information to log-in or register to any website. The China Security and Protection Industry published a paper last year stating that the mass collection of personal data would lead to security breaches.
Tencent has already started testing and has implemented it over 60 of its games. Just this June, it demanded an average of 5.8 million users a day to show their faces when logging in, and blocked access to accounts to those who rejected this facial recognition “feature”.
While facial recognition is sought to be used in video games, it already has seen massive use in everyday lives in China. Facial recognition is used to track down criminals, is used in hotel rooms and banks use it to verify payments.
Though, China is not the only country taking this idea into account. The Kagawa Prefecture in Japan has asked parents to set screen time to individuals under 20 years of age, but did not specify any enforcement mechanisms. This move also prompted a 17-year old to challenge this move in court.
Source: New York Times