Facial recognition regulation to be rolled out soon

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/25 17:36:50

Financial regulations concerning payment via facial recognition will soon be rolled out to ensure the safety of payments as well as data privacy protection, according to a report by Economic Information Daily.

Li Wei, director of the science and technology department of the People's Bank of China, warned that facial recognition can be very risky in financial transactions, and that companies should not exploit their technological capacities, according to the report.

"The current technology allows facial recognition from as far as three kilometers away, without the client's consent on the operation," Li was quoted saying in the report. "It is a terrifying prospect."

Payment via facial recognition is steadily on the rise. Alipay debuted commercial payment through facial recognition back in 2017 with KFC in China. In February last year, Alipay launched its latest commercial facial recognition product, dubbed "Dragonfly" in March this year, WeChat launched its own facial recognition product, "Frog." Commercial banks such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and the China Construction Bank (CCB) have also rolled out plans for facial recognition payments.

However, this rising trend of facial recognition products is facing growing backlash. Earlier this month, the face-changing app ZAO triggered widespread criticism on Chinese social media after some of the terms in its user agreement allowed the app to store, use and even transfer its users' data for free.

Previously in July, Li warned of the dangers of payment via facial recognition, saying that the "human face is very sensitive personal information, and once compromised may induce serious consequences."

Yun Fei, an engineer at Hangzhou-based cloud service provider Upyun, told the Global Times that the prevalence of biometric information collection such as facial or fingerprint recognition could have serious potential to damage user data safety.

Biometric authentication is especially dangerous as the impact of the compromise of biometric information is far greater than a lost password, since a password can be changed but biological features cannot, according to Yun.

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