fredag 9. oktober 2020

Facial recognition data leaks are rampant in China as Covid-19 pushes wider use of the technology

When Lao Dongyan’s residential neighbourhood in Beijing decided to install facial recognition, she made an uncommon choice: She decided to fight it. Lao had concerns about the data security for such systems, so she raised her objections in a group chat with other residents. As a law professor at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University, Lao had knowledge and resources that most people do not have. Lao sent out legal letters to the property management and neighbourhood committee.

“When property management companies, schools and other organisations collect such information, you do not know how much they collected, how they store it or how they use it,” Lao said during a seminar held on September 23 at the China University of Political Science and Law, where participants discussed the misuse of facial recognition.

Lao said that the neighbourhood eventually decided to allow residents to continue to use their access cards to enter the community, but the facial recognition system was still installed. Not everyone in China gets that option, though, as facial recognition systems become more common in similar neighbourhoods around the country. And not all those neighbourhoods have a legal professional like Lao to advocate against the technology.