A Beijing subway station is promoting a system that recognizes the faces of passengers and matches them to a database, as China’s adoption of surveillance technology gathers pace despite misgivings about privacy.
Passengers will be able to use a facial recognition gateway during rush hour if they sign up to the service by registering with a QR code, according to security officials at Fuchengmen Station in the west of China’s capital. Bags larger than an A4 piece of paper still need to be checked, they said. A representative from Beijing Ruubypay Science and Technology Co., which is promoting the system, added that it’s unclear when it will be rolled out citywide.
State media reported in late October that the Beijing Subway would use facial recognition to help ease congestion on the crowded network, and that a credit system based on passenger behavior would determine the level of security checks they faced. That echoes a broader plan by China to implement a social credit system to grade citizens and award or deduct points accordingly.
Mind the Snap
Mass surveillance technology has stoked plenty of apprehension. Even the tightly controlled Chinese media has raised concerns: China Central Television said laws are urgently needed to regulate and restrict its use. A court in the eastern city of Hangzhou last month agreed to hear a case filed by a law professor, who is suing the local safari park over a mandatory rule requiring visitors to enter through a facial recognition lane.
Beijing’s adoption of the technology comes amid a global outcry over its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, where the United Nations says upwards of 1 million of the ethnic minority Muslim population could be being held in re-education camps. Intense surveillance in the region forces residents to submit to facial scans when entering places such as markets and fuel stations. China has justified the crackdown as counter-terrorism activity and says the U.S. and others should stop interfering in its internal affairs.