Chinese Citizens Not Comfortable With Facial Recognition, Scared of Data Leaks

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Within a short period, facial recognition has become a significant part of daily life in China. However, despite its massive adoption, citizens are worried about the technology and its implications.



AI-focused group of the Nandu Personal Information Protection Research Center published the report of a survey that asked residents their opinions concerning the rising deployment of facial scan systems across the country.

Possible Data Leaks Have the Chinese Scared

The report took responses from 6,100 Chinese nationals, and it showed an overwhelmingly negative perception of the Chinese facial recognition systems. As it showed, 39 percent of respondents were entirely uncomfortable with facial recognition. Forty percent of respondents asserted that they didn’t even know their data was being collected, while 83 percent expressed optimism that the government will provide back channels for them to check and delete their data.

However, perhaps more significant was that about 79 percent of respondents reported that concerns over the susceptibility of these facial recognition systems being hacked. Although 41 percent of respondents were fine with living in a world where their facial recognition data is being collected, the concerns about potential attacks were nonetheless overwhelming.

Global Outrage on Facial Recognition and Surveillance

Chinese people have a completely logical reason to be concerned about this. The country had an estimated population of 1.386 billion people as of 2017, and given how much facial recognition data it could have, any potential data leak could be devastating to national security.

Other countries have started to run into issues with their facial recognition and government surveillance programs. Earlier this week, as reported by BeInCrypto, Russian officials with access to facial recognition data were selling private keys to hackers on Dark Web forums. Some of these login details were peddled for as low as 30,000 Rubles (about $470 at the time).

Moscow has over 3,000 security cameras. These cameras work round the clock, recording anyone or anything that comes into its scope. The ultimate goal, as the city’s official website claims, is to link data to a central repository that can be viewed at any time by city officials and law enforcement agents to help in criminal investigations.

In the United States, however, the government’s efforts to expand facial recognition surveillance were opposed. The Department of Homeland Security recently submitted a proposal to install cameras at major airports, essentially meaning that anyone who wants to enter or leave the country will need to undergo a facial recognition check.

Opposing this proposal, ACLU Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley said in a statement that the government has started to renege on a promise it made to Americans and was looking to impose an “intrusive surveillance technology” on them. Giving reasons to push against this implementation, Stanley pointed to abuse of power, potential bias, the prospect of data breaches, and an infringement on the right of people to travel.

Images are courtesy of Twitter, Pixabay.


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