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China regulator floats curbs for face biometrics use, data storage

China regulator floats curbs for face biometrics use, data storage

Draft rules for how businesses can and cannot use facial recognition are being aired in China.

The proposed rules have been written by the Cyberspace Administration, a Chinese regulator that also covers automated collection of biometrics. And they are not what most people outside the autocracy would consider bold.

There have been reports for the last three years illustrating an increase in discomfort among Chinese citizens.

The bill addresses biometrics use by businesses. One rule would require that someone consent before they can be subjected to facial recognition, according to reporting by the Reuters news agency.

Analysis of face biometrics to determine ethnicity or religion would be banned, the Hong Kong Free Press reports. That would leave only the government and police markets open to the ethnicity detection systems developed by Hikvision and other domestic suppliers.

The Cyberspace Administration is considering telling data collectors to choose non-biometric data sources whenever appropriate.

And some locations should be off limits to cameras: public bathrooms, changing rooms and hotel rooms, for example. Hotel room doors are being equipped with facial recognition for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, and the technology has been used to prevent toilet paper theft for years.

Where cameras with face biometrics do go up in public spaces, it should be for public safety and prominent signs should warn people of their operation, according to Reuters.

A Chinese law professor won a lawsuit against a safari park for requiring him to submit his face biometrics for park entry in late-2020, in a sign of changes to come, at least for the private sector.

The draft legislation is open for public comment until September 7.

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