Alibaba's Hometown to Ban Mandatory Facial Recognition in Residential Communities

October 30, 2020 4:10 pm

Beijing (PingWest)- Hangzhou, the hometown of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, may issue a new regulation that prohibit mandatory implementation of facial recognition such as facial or other biometric scans in residential communities amid concerns over potential data leaks and the possible infringement of personal privacy.

The city has drafted the new regulation which has submitted to Standing Committee of the People’s Congress. If new regulation passed, Hangzhou will be the first city in China to ban facial recognition technologies used in residential communities.

Under the terms of the new regulation, neighborhood committees are prohibited to involve any kinds of wrongdoings such as leaking residents’ private information to third parties, and it cannot force residents to enter public facilities by scanning face or fingerprints.

The issue of new regulation comes after the continuous public date over the use of pervasive facial recognition across China. Guo Bing, associate professor of law at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, who has been promoting the law, said the leaks of personal information have happened frequently in recent year.

Guo himself has been put under the spotlight of Chinese social media in September last year when he sued Hangzhou Safari Park for violating his privacy and leaking his personal data.  

Guo has bought the annual ticket to the park, but he was required to fill out the form that provide his name, phone number and fingerprints. In previous months, he has used fingerprint recognition to enter, but later he had received a message from Safari Park telling him the new rules have been introduced, and it had become mandatory for visitors to register their personal details using the facial recognition system.

“I concerned about the deployment of facial recognition system, I was expressed my dissatisfaction with the collection of facial data,” Guo told local medias, adding that he also expressed willingness to continue scanning with his fingerprint for entrance, but he was being told that his requirement was not possible.

According to Guo, the purpose of lawsuit is not to get compensation but to fight the abuse of facial recognition.

The rapid development of facial recognition technology in China has raised the public concern about the violation of personal privacy.

Privacy issues that are relevant to facial recognition has become a matter of heated debate on social media.

Some Weibo user noted that “Facial recognition technologies bring convenience to people’s lives, but it endanger us at the same time.many places are collecting peoples’ information without consent.”